The Inter-Ministerial Task Force Against Illegal Mining (Galamsey) is to move into the second phase of its operation soon, President John Dramani Mahama has said.
The first phase of the operation, conducted in 2013, saw the task force dismantling hundreds of illegal gold mining sites in the country and evicting thousands of illegal miners, including Chinese, from the sites.
During the second phase, the President said, the task force would spearhead a livelihood project which would involve registering galamsey operators to reclaim devastated lands they had destroyed, through a well-crafted tree planting programme.
The President made this known during an interaction with the chiefs and people of Ayanfuri at the start of a two-day working visit to the Central Region yesterday.
He said the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources would, in due course, lay out the fine details of the tree-planting programme.
Mr Mahama, who had flown to the area in a helicopter, said he was shocked to see the massive destruction caused by galamsey activities in the area.
Apart from the land, he said, rivers had been polluted by the illegal operators through their activities.
He, consequently, called for concerted efforts to fight the menace, since illegal mining could destroy the future of the country if not arrested.
In that regard, he appealed to chiefs to play a lead role in the fight against the canker, saying the government alone could not win the battle against galamsey if the chiefs, who are custodians of the land, were not fully involved.
President Mahama said it was not his intention to stop small-scale mining or deny the people their livelihoods.
However, the right thing must be done and, in that case, those who were interested in small-scale mining must go through the process of registration.