The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has defended its decision to suspend prospecting of gold in forest reserves.

The Mining Advisor to the Lands and Natural Resource Minister, Ben Aryee explained that the authorities want to be sure of those “who are operating inappropriately in our job and those operating legitimately.”

“That’s why it is a suspension but not a complete ban. Those who are operating legitimately will be allowed to go back to continue their operation,” he added.

The government has suspended prospecting in forest areas in a bid to sanitize the mining sector and protect the country’s forests.

The Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners wants miners who are illegally operating in forest reserves to be punished by the government.

General Secretary of the Association, Godwin Amarh in an interview said: “those who are doing it illegally should be forced to reclaim and reafforestate the places that they have degraded. If you have degraded an area and the Minister says they should move their equipment out, who is going to reclaim those places?”

He, therefore, advised the government to ensure that “those who engaged in the illegality to pay for the land reclamation cost.”

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