Minister of the Environment, Rtd Captain Benjamin Davis says his government is “critically looking” into the activities of mining companies who neglect their environmental obligations.
Speaking to this press, the minister said many of the companies who claim to have financial capabilities do not have it, consequently they are only interested in extracting minerals without regard to the environmental impact such activity causes.
He added that some of the mining companies have not embarked on any meaningful developmental programs in the country or in communities they operate in, noting that they are not credible business outfits.
Minister Davis maintained that his Government was looking for investors who can embark on sustainable development of the land with serious consideration to the protection of the environment and ensure that both the government and the people benefit from their natural resources.
He spoke about the rampant felling of trees across the country which he said was responsible for deforestation and scarcity of water in most parts of the country. He warned those involved in the cutting-down of trees for fire wood and coal burning to desist as the land degradation and deforestation policy had been drafted. He said the environmental protection agency would punish all those involved in destroying the land as they will soon embark on environmental impact assessment.
The Minister added that Government was also working out modalities for a fuel harvestable agricultural land which people will use to provide fuel and it will be located in communities where tree-felling is rampant as the only source of income for some communities.
He maintained that the ministry is presently building the capacity of the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce laws that would compel mining companies to reclaim all land that could have been destroyed as a result of the extraction of minerals so that the host community can be compensated adequately and their lives improved.
Campaign organisations in the country have long spoken out against the degradation caused by mining activity in Kono and Bonthe districts. They have criticized the “reckless destruction” of the land without any reclamation or adequate compensation to the host communities on surface rents to ensure the land is prepared for future developments.
The Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources is currently reviewing all mining licenses to ensure land degradation is minimized and mining host communities are compensated adequately.