A deputy minister-designate for Lands and Natural Resources, George Mireku Duker, is proposing the creation of artificial forest reserves across the country, particularly in mining areas where activities of illegal mining have destroyed most forest reserves.
He explained that the initiative will help to recover the forests and beautiful vegetations which have been lost, as a result of the unfortunate activities of illegal mining, popularly called galamsey.
Speaking at the Parliament's Appointment Committee vetting on Monday, June 7, 2021, Mr Mireku Duker said, "We need to consciously create artificial forest zones that will serve as cover to replenish the depleted vegetations".
Mr Duker, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tarkwa-Nsuaem said, his concern has been how as a country we can also create man-made forests to protect and preserve our mineral resources.
He said, that was why he was happy when the sector Minister, Samuel Abu Jinapor, initiated the idea of planting five million trees every year to reclaim the lands, because for him, "itin a way gave assurance that as a country, we need to think on how we can fix artificial forest reserves which we have not done over the years."
Meanwhile, the deputy minister has assured the Vetting Committee that he will support his Minister to ensure strict ratification of all mining concessions before the owners begin operation.
According to him, as a former member of Mines and Energy Committee of Parliament, he was part of those insisting on the aspect of making sure that parliament ratifies mineral rights before they start operation.
"And I believe, after my approval, I will assist my sector minister in aspect of having ratifications done in parliament before operations by large scale concessions," he assured.
He told members of the Appointment Committee, how his committeeat the time, supported and engineered lots of concessions to be ratified, adding,"as I sit here, I know not less than twenty of the large-scale concessions have been ratified by parliament".
"We will continue to insist that, we get their concessions well ratified before starting operations and I think it's a good concern that we all work around it to ensure that people interested in large-scale concessions mining must get their concessions properly rectified," he assured.
The former Board Chairman of Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF) also told the Vetting Committee that he is not against mining in forest reserves, provided it is done in a professional manner in accordance with the law.
In his view, "mining prudently or professionally in forest reserves that are dedicated for development purposes is not against the law in actual sense. I believe the onus is on us to a legislative framework that will guide the mining process and make sure we mine according to it".
According to him, it will depend on the area dedicated for the mining,if the forest reserve is earmarked for mining, there is nothing wrong with it.
George Mireku Duker is currently serving his second term as the MP for Tarkwa Nsuaem.
He previously served as the Vice Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Mines & Energy in the 7th Parliament, the First Board Chairperson of the Minerals Income Investment Fund, as well as a Board member of the NBSSI.
His Constituency, Tarkwa-Nsuaem, is presently home to three of the country's large-scale mining companies namely; Goldfields Ghana Limited, Tarkwa Mine, Anglogold Ashanti, Iduapriem Mine and Ghana Manganese Company which together with other mining companies in the Wassa enclave, accounts for about 40 per cent of total gold produced in the country.
He was onetime Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) under erstwhile ex-President Kufour administration, and was also installed as a Chief of Wassah Dompemin the Western Region in 2008 with the stool name,Nana Kweku Nkrumah IV, but later abdicated his seat to join politics.