The Lands Minister has directed individuals and companies engaged in prospecting in forest reserves with or without legal authorisation, to suspend such activities until further notice.

Samuel Abdulai Jinapor’s decision follows revelation that a number of individuals and companies unlawfully acquire licences under the pretext of undertaking reconnaissance or prospecting in Forest Reserves and yet proceed to engage in illegal mining in such Forest Reserves, with its obvious adverse consequences on the environment.

He further directed the Minerals Commission with immediate effect, not to accept, process or recommend the grant, including renewal or extension of reconnaissance and prospecting licences in Forest Reserves.

In Paragraph 12 of the Communique of the National Consultative Dialogue on Small Scale Mining held at the Accra International Conference Centre on 14th and 15th April, it clearly stated that “emphatically charged government to take steps to put in place systems that would rigidly apply the law, noting particularly the sanctions/penalties imposed by Act 995, to all those who infringe the law, irrespective of political colour or socio-economic status or class; indeed, the better placed in society and who ought to know better should have the most punitive of the penalties applied to them.”

Whereas the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has a mandate to ensure the sustainable management and utilization of the nation’s lands, forests and wildlife resources as well as the efficient management of the mineral resources for socio-economic growth and development.

Except as directed by the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources in writing, all activities and operations in respect of any reconnaissance and/or prospecting licences in Forest Reserves are hereby suspended until further notice.

Mr Jinapor has served notice and requested the various Regional Security Councils to strictly enforce these directives.