Answer ... The key regulatory institutions are as follows.
Minerals Commission: The Minerals Commission was established under the Minerals Commission Act (450/1993) for the regulation and management of the mobilisation of mineral resources of Ghana and the coordination of the policies in relation to them. The commission serves as the technical advisory agency to the government. The Minerals Commission is empowered under Section 100 of the Minerals and Mining Act to supervise, under the direction of the minister of lands and natural resources, the proper and effective implementation of the act and the various regulations made thereunder. The commission is mandated under Section 2 of the Minerals Commission Act to:
- formulate recommendations of national policy for the exploration and exploitation of mineral resources, with special reference to establishing national priorities with due regard to the national economy;
- advise the minister of lands and natural resources on matters relating to minerals;
- monitor the implementation of government policy on minerals and report on this to the minister;
- monitor the operation of all bodies or establishments with responsibility for mining;
- receive and assess public agreements relating to minerals; and
- collect data on national mineral resources.
In addition to the commission’s broad supervisory role, the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission is responsible for enforcing the mining regulations. The Inspectorate Division was established under Section 101 of the Minerals and Mining Act. The head of the Inspectorate Division or an officer authorised by the head may at reasonable times enter a reconnaissance, prospecting or mining area or premises in the area other than a residential dwelling to ascertain whether a nuisance is being created in the area by the mineral operations. The division’s primary objective is to ensure that mining operations are undertaken in compliance with the basic laws and regulations of Ghana.
Forestry Commission: The Forestry Commission was established under the Forestry Commission Act (571/1999). The Forestry Commission is responsible for the regulation of the utilisation of forest and wildlife resources, the conservation and management of these resources and the coordination of related policies. With respect to mining, Section 18 of the Minerals and Mining Act provides that the holder of a mineral right must obtain a permit from the Forestry Commission before undertaking any mineral operations.
Water Resources Commission: The Water Resources Commission was established under the Water Resources Commission Act (522/1996). The Water Resources Commission is responsible for the regulation and management of the utilisation of water resources and the coordination of related policy. The Water Resources Commission is therefore mandated to grant water rights. Under Section 17 of the Minerals and Mining Act, the holder of a mineral right may, for purposes of or ancillary to mineral operations, obtain, divert, impound, convey and use water from a river, stream, underground reservoir or watercourse within the land that is the subject of the mineral right, subject to obtaining the requisite approvals or licences under the Water Resources Commission Act. Under the Water Use Regulation, 2001 (LI 1692), passed pursuant to the Water Resources Commission Act, the commission also has the power to enter any land to inspect works constructed or under construction there, to ascertain the amount of water obstructed or capable of being hampered by means of the works.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): The EPA was established under the Environmental Protection Agency Act (490/1994). The EPA is responsible for, among other things, the enforcement of environmental regulations. In accordance with Section 18 of the Minerals and Mining Act and the Environmental Assessment Regulations, 1999 (LI 1652) of the EPA, the holder of a mineral right requires an environmental permit from the EPA in order to undertake any mineral operations. The Environmental Assessment Regulations constitute the main legal framework used by the EPA to regulate and monitor mineral operations. The regulation requires the applicant to prepare a scoping report setting out the scope or extent of the environmental impact assessment to be carried out by the applicant and includes a draft term of reference, which indicates the essential issues to be addressed in the environmental impact statement. The holder of a mineral right granted an environmental permit must submit an annual environmental report in respect of the mineral operations to the EPA.
Lands Commission: The Lands Commission is responsible for ensuring the judicious management of Ghana’s land. The Land Valuation Board – a division of the Lands Commission, which is involved in the valuation of land and other properties – assists the mining sector on issues relating to compensation.
Ghana Geological Survey Authority: The Ghana Geological Survey Authority was established under the Ghana Geological Survey Authority Act (928/2016), with a mandate to advise the government on geoscientific issues relating to mineral resources, environment and hydrogeology.
The objects of the authority under the act are to:
- carry out systematic geological mapping, assess, monitor and evaluate geological hazards and risks, collect geoscientific data, manage and disseminate geoscientific information;
- promote the search for, and exploitation of, minerals in Ghana, undertake research in the field of geoscience and furnish specialised geoscientific services;
- conduct research into matters of importance for the exploration, exploitation and protection of the nation’s geological and geoscientific natural resources; and
- conduct site, foundation or geotechnical investigations and issue reports as pre-requisites for major construction projects in the country.
The functions of the authority under the act are to:
- advise the government on matters relating to geology, geohazards and the search for and exploitation and development of mineral resources in the country;
- conduct geological, geochemical, geophysical, seismological, hydrogeological, geotechnical and geo-environmental surveys, mineral exploration, systematic mapping of rocks and other geological or geoscience materials, including soil and clays, including in offshore areas;
- develop and maintain a national seismic network to monitor earthquakes, tsunamis and mine blasts that have the potential to impact negatively on persons and property in the country and for optimum land-use planning;
- serve as a national repository for geoscientific data and information generated by public and private entities, including mining and mineral exploration companies which operate in the country;
- collaborate with relevant local and international bodies on geoscientific matters that the board established under Section 5 of the Act considers necessary;
- conduct site or foundation investigations and issue certified reports before major construction works or projects that have the potential to impact on the subsurface structure and the socio-economic, cultural and aesthetic environment;
- conduct ground surveys or airborne surveys, take samples and make borings necessary to conduct investigations and prepare relevant reports to assist with national development;
- liaise with relevant public agencies involved in land-use planning for sustainable use of the spatial environment in Ghana;
- perform such functions and undertake such investigations as the minister may assign to the authority; and
- perform any other functions conferred on it by the act or that are ancillary to the achievement of its objectives.
The Ghana Geological Survey Authority also plays a significant role in the mining industry of Ghana.