Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, says the moratorium is aimed at helping fight the illegal small-scale mining menace (galamsey).
A media coalition was launched by the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Prof Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, on Tuesday, 4 April in connection with fighting the problem.
At the launch, Prof Frimpong Boateng revealed that activities of galamsey in Ghana are destroying water sources in Ivory Coast, a situation which has incensed Ghana’s western neighbour.
“I was in Abidjan from Wednesday to Saturday for a conference and I was confronted with galamsey almost immediately on the effects that the galamsey in Ghana is having on Ivory Coast, because River Bia enters Ivory Coast almost at the lower thirds. And Tano enters the lagoon and it is polluting the Bia lagoon, so they cannot even treat water in some of their treatment plants,” Professor Frimpong Boateng said.
“So they [Ivorians] took advantage of my presence to organise a press conference. I met the Minister of Environment and the Mining Minister and they asked me to speak to their people. I made it clear to them that we are very serious to stop galamsey and I was able to convince them that indeed we are serious.
“The good thing is that they always made reference to the good relationship between Ghana and Ivory Coast and especially between Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo and the President of Ivory Coast.”
Ivory Coast’s semi-public water distribution company, SODECI, recently shut down its water treatment plant in the area because of the level of pollution in the Bia River, which serves as a vital source of water for the residents of Bianouan in eastern Ivory Coast.
Galamsey is a local artisanal gold miner in Ghana, West Africa; such workers are known as orpailleurs in neighboring francophone nations. Galamseys are people who do gold mining independent of mining companies, digging small working (pits, tunnels and sluices) by hand.