Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, has highlighted the significant contribution of small-scale mining to Ghana's gold output, producing a total of 712,405 ounces of gold in the previous year.
He emphasized that this sector generated nearly US$1.2 billion in export receipts, while all diamonds produced in the country, totalling 82,251.99 carats and generating US$3.9 million in revenue, were sourced from small-scale mining.
Mr Jinapor made these remarks during the opening of a two-day transformational dialogue on artisanal and small-scale mining, which aimed to address environmental security and human rights in small-scale mining operations in Ghana.
The event brought together various stakeholders, including politicians, traditional leaders, students, members of the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), small-scale miners, civil society actors, representatives of large-scale mining companies, and the media.
The Minister acknowledged that small-scale mining provides employment opportunities for thousands of individuals and supports the livelihoods of millions of citizens.
However, he also expressed concern over the rise of illegal activities within the sector, leading to environmental degradation, emphasizing the need for collaborative efforts to combat this issue.
The government has implemented policies and measures, such as the National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme (NAELP), to provide alternative sources of income for those engaged in illegal mining.
Under NAELP, young men and women have been employed in the production of seedlings and land reclamation in the Ashanti, Eastern, and Western North Regions.
Furthermore, the Apprenticeship, Skills Training, and Entrepreneurship module of the Programme will be rolled out later this year, aiming to train 5,000 youth in various skills related to agriculture, technical fields, and mining.
Mr Jinapor commended the UENR for introducing innovative programs focused on sustainable mining, land degradation neutrality, and sustainable land management.
He stressed the importance of a collective effort to promote responsible and sustainable mining practices, transform mined lands into viable agricultural areas, and intensify education on these practices.
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