For many years our country has been confronted with pollution of land, solid and water as well as the destruction of forests and farmlands due to the activities of some small-scale illegal miners. The gradual deterioration of the environment in the mining sector was due to lapses in the functions of the regulatory agencies, especially the Minerals Commission and the forestry commission. For example, the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission which is supposed to ensure safety at mining sites had completely broken down. Corruption in the commission is legendary. Application and Issuance of mining permits and licenses did not follow any workable pattern and sometimes it took miners up to ten years to obtain the necessary documents to mine legally. Most miners were unable to wait that long and they resorted to illegality. In addition to the above challenges, the artisanal and small-scale mining sector was informal in nature and the regulatory agencies lacked both the human and logistical resources required to regulate the industry. At the turn of the last century, that is around 1900, Ghana had about 8.8 million hectares of primary forest. By 1950, the area had been reduced to 4.2 million hectares and further to about 1.5 million hectares by 1999. In 2010 the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 2010 estimated Ghana’s deforestation rate at 135,395 hectares per year. In the best times of the rate of afforestation and reforestation combined about 2000 hectares per year. With these figures, one can compute when there will be no primary forest in Ghana. Illegal mining can be defined as any mining activity that has not been licensed by the appropriate state regulatory institutions and have negative effect on the environment. In the context of the work of IMCIM, illegal mining included mining in river beds (dredging), mining on river banks, diversion of tailings and other influents into water bodies, mining in forest reserves, non-reclamation of land, small-scale mining engaged in by foreigners and inappropriate use of dangerous chemicals. As we all know, the artisanal and small-scale mining sector is a significant contributor to local economics and rural livelihoods in many parts of the country. In Ghana, small-scale mining is the preserve of Ghanaians. Unfortunately, artisanal and small-scale mining operations are characterized by illegality, social conflict, and safety, health, and environmental impact. Management of artisanal and small-scale mining at the local level has become a very complex issue as foreigners with heavy equipment and in collaboration with Ghanaians, are involved in the trade, thereby causing environmental degradation especially pollution of water bodies. Soon after the president was sworn into office in January 2017, he expressed his commitment to protect the land, forest, and water bodies for the present and future generations. He made the profound statement that he was prepared to put his presidency on the line to stop the destruction of the environment. Consequently, the president established the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) in March 2017. The IMCIM was tasked with the following mandates among others to: a. Strengthen the existing stakeholder agencies that are related to the artisanal and small-scale mining sector i.e. Minerals Commission, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Water Resources Commission (WRC) and Forestry Commission; b. Ensure that these agencies enforce the existing laws that are related to the artisanal and small-scale mining sector; c. Set up ad-hoc district mining committees whose functions are to coordinate the various activities of the Ministries that constitute the IMCIM. d. Vet and verify legally registered artisanal and small-scale mining companies and to regularize any discrepancies where possible. e. Sanitize and regularize small-scale mining in the various mining district to ensure that miners work within the legal framework. f. Train Artisanal and small-scale Miners (ASM) in sustainable mining and mineral processing practices; g. Reclaim degraded land and restore impacted water bodies; and h. Coordinate activities related to alternative livelihoods for the youth, especially illegal miners in the various mining communities. It is extremely important to note that the IMCIMs activities centered on small-scale and Artisanal Gold Mining. This task was performed to near perfection at the time of the inauguration of the committee the problem of mining in forest reserves and its attendant destruction of forests, cocoa farms, water bodies, and farmland as well as the harassment of villagers bordering communities by armed mining guards, including soldiers were not on the radar screen. As will be mentioned later in this write-up, the major challenges that we had in the mining communities occurred in 2018 when the forestry commission and the Ministry of Lands itself decided to give out almost all the forest reserves in this country for mining activities. This was reported to the cabinet at its meeting on 28th February 2019, the issuance of all new license permits by the forestry commission and also to suspend the license already issued for operation in (47) forty-seven forest reserves. The directive was ignored and the destruction continued. Worse still, soldiers have officially been redrawn from mining sites but in many areas, regular Ghana Army personnel were seen providing security at illegal mining sites. What saddened me was when Mr. Gabby Asare Otchere Darko called to defend a company that was actively destroying the environment, especially the forest and River Offin in the Apraprama Krobo forest. To coordinate the affairs of the IMCIM, a secretariat was commissioned on December 28th, 2017; The members of the committee are made up of the ministers of committees of the following Ministries 1. Environment and science and Technology Innovation (MESTI) –chairperson to the committee 2. Land and Natural Resources (MNLR) 3. Local Government and Rural Development (MLGR) 4. Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs 5. Regional Reorganization and Development 6. Monetary and Evaluation 7. Water and Sanitation 8. Interior 9. Defense 10. Information Mr. Charles Bissue presidential staffer was appointed secretary to the committee. The committee was supported by the minister for national security, the national security adviser, and the chief of staff. A moratorium was put in place on April 1 2017 to suspend artisanal and small-scale mining throughout the country for a period of 6 months and was further extended for 9 months. To enforce the ban, operation vanguard made up of 400 men drawn from the Military and Police Service, was launched on July 31st, 2017, and deployed to mining areas mainly in the Eastern, Central, Ashanti, and Western Regions. Vetting and Training of Mining Companies The Minerals Commission presented 5000 mining companies for vetting. The vetting exercise was led by the IMCIM and supported by Chiefs, Stakeholders Agencies and Institutions such as the Minerals Commission, Forestry Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Water Resources Commission, Ghana National Small Scale Mining Association, and the University Of Mines And Technology Tarkwa. The vetting exercise was advertised in the national and private newspapers radio and television stations as well as Social Media for the purpose of transparency. The advert included details of the vetting requirement and any information that will facilitate the smooth running of the vetting exercise The list of document that was inspected during the vetting exercise included but not limited to; 1. Mining Licenses, Environmental Operation Permit 2. Task Identification Number and 3. Company Registration Details If the license permit expires prior to the bank it was verified to ascertain renewal application has been made Out of 5000 companies written to, 1,350 of them appeared for the vetting. Field Mapping and Artisanal and Small-scale Mining Concessions were carried out. The boundaries of all Artisanal and Small Scale Mining Concessions were set out and mapped using a GLOBAL NAVIGATION SATELLITE SYSTEM and drone Technology to verify their existence and accuracy of location and further provide a baseline for all artisanal mining concessions. The 1350 individuals and companies, who were successfully vetted and verified were subsequently registered as artisanal and small-scale miners and Certified to resume their businesses Identification cards were issued to the vetted artisanal and small-scale mining companies and entities. Information embedded in the digital ID cards included the Ghana Post Code and license validity information etc. Signposts were erected at the concession of the successfully vetted artisanal and small-scale mining companies GPS address. Details of successfully vetted small-scale mining that were allowed to commence mining operations were published in the national and private newspapers, radio and TV stations and on the IMCIMs official web page the regularization of artisanal was therefore achieved. Training of small-scale miners was an important aspect of the work of IMCIM. As of the end of August 2018, 4000 small-scale miners have been trained in sustainable and mining minerals processing practices at the University of Mines and Technology. All expenses were borne by the Government. The training of miners in sustainable mining was a success. The IMCIM embarked on extensive public education on the dangers and effects of illegal mining Also, the IMCIM has devised an extensive and intrusive mechanism to make sure after the ban was lifted miners would not go back to the bad old ways to destroy the environment. These measures included regular visits to mining concessions by the inspector’s use of satellite images and drones to monitor mining activities to regulatory agencies such as Metropolitan Municipal and District Chief Executives. To be continued….