EPA deploys web-based system to track licenses of small-scale miners

John Alexis Pwamang, Acting Executive Director of the EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said it will soon commence a web-based registration system that would help track all licenses of all small-scale and artisanal miners.

In an interview with Goldstreet Business, Acting Executive Director of the EPA, John Alexis Pwamang, said the agency is currently piloting an electronic system that would provide a live feed on mining activities across the country.

The programme, which is currently being test-run in the Dunkwa-on-Offin in the Central Region, will be extended to other mining districts such as Obuasi, Konongo, Tarkwa and Akyem Abuakwa, and will include environmental regulators such as district assemblies, he mentioned.

The Web-based system known as the Environmental Compliance and Monitoring (EPACM) is complemented with high-end DJI Phantom intelligent drones to capture aerial images of all permitted small-scale miners or concessions.

The EPA will use aerial photographs of mining concessions as part of the baseline information prior to the commencement of permitting processes.

Pwamang said some digital tools and templates have been uploaded onto tablets and linked to the EPACM for direct information transfer.

‘’Some field officers are able to submit real time reports and photographs of developments from the field during compliance monitoring,’’ he said.

‘’The establishment of an environmental police unit of the Ghana Police Service will also be helpful to this exercise,’’ Pwamang added.

Mr. Pwamang advised that lands that have degraded by illegal mining activities need to be rehabilitated after cost estimation has been carried out.

Government through the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) this month intends to vet and verify some 1,350 legally registered artisanal and small-scale mining companies.

Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Frimpong-Boateng, in August disclosed government’s roadmap for lifting of the ban on artisanal and small-scale mining.This comes after cabinet approved the roadmap to regulate mining activities.

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng in his submission said a software application dubbed; ‘’GalamSTOP’’ has been developed and installed on 80 ruggedized tablets procured by the IMCIM to help district assemblies and other stakeholders use satellite imagery and drone technology in monitoring illegal mining activities across the country.

‘’GalamSTOP’’ is expected to integrate data from the various stakeholder agencies; Operation Vanguard, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Minerals Commission, Water Resources Commission and District Assemblies.

By Mawuli Y. Ahorlumegah