The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr. John Peter Amewu has taken hold of more defaulters in his determined fight against illegal small scale mining in Ghana, aka, galamsey. This time around, it is no longer the Chinese, but Russians, Ukrainians, a Burkinabe were apprehended, alongside some Ghanaians.
Following the suspension of small scale mining across the country, the Minister of Lands and his team have been on the watch-out for defaulters. The Minister recently went on an investigative tour in the Ashanti Region which is said to be among the mostly affected in the country; and his mission was blessed with nabbing of many galamseyers.
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Among the latest glamseyers arrests are five foreigners and three Ghanaians. Four of the foreigners – two Russians and two Ukrainians, are managers of the Geo Professional Services, a small scale mining company located at Tontokrom in the Amansie West District of the Ashanti Region.
The Inspection Directorate of the Minerals Commission had earlier issued a stop work notice to the foreign company in accordance with the six-month moratorium on small scale mining. But they ignored the order and went on with their business as usual.
The company was found to be using the licenses of three local mining companies to mine. It was also discovered that they have mined 500 acres of land instead of 75 acres originally allotted them by the Commission.
Mr. Amewu who was furious at the foreigners, slammed them for destroying the environment and polluting water bodies in the name of mining; adding that he doubts if the offenders would do exactly what they are doing here in Ghana back in their respective countries.
The four who were first detained at the Kumasi Central Police Station, are still in custody, assisting security agents with further investigations. Aside prosecution, the company which has already been shut down, has been ordered to reclaim all lands affected by their activities. They are to furnish the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission with evidence of restoration of the lands in question.
Meanwhile, the other foreigner, a Burkinabe was arrested alongside the three Ghanaians. The offenders were caught red handed by Mr. Amewu and his team at Amadaa in the Atwima Nwabiagya District of the Ashanti Region where they were carrying out the forbidden act.
According to Graphic Online reports, three of the suspects, Abdul Karim, 21, the Burkinabe; Kofi Braimah, 25, and Abu Yakubu, 28, were arrested while they were busy mining and polluting the river. The fourth person, who gave his name only as Kofi, was arrested while making a phone call to inform the illegal miners of the presence of the minister and his entourage.
Surprisingly, the mining site where the four were arrested was about 200 metres away from the chief’s palace. But when the chief was questioned, he denied ever getting any wind of illegal mining in his community.
However, a member of the community who pleaded anonymity, expressed doubt over the chief’s claim of ignorance. He alleged that the community leaders have been selling lands to the illegal miners who have destroyed many acres of farmlands in the area. He also revealed that farmers who refused to sell their cocoa farms had their farms sprayed with chemicals, destroying the trees within 48 hours.
Other Mining Companies on Amewu’s List
Two other companies, Kasmil Mining Company Limited and K. Afriyie and Sons Precious Metals Company Limited, were also issued a stop work order. These two companies are to also see to the reclamation of the land they worked on.
Moreover, government had previously suspended the operations of Shaanxi Ghana Mining Company Limited operating in Gbane in the Talensi District of the Upper East Region temporarily. The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources had indicated that the suspension is meant to allow for thorough investigations into the company’s underground operations, as well as the alleged death of about seven miners in the area.
The Minister still insists that government is not against small scale mining, but only frowns at the negative means through which the business is being carried out across the country. He went to express deep commitment to the fight against illegal mining, warning that anybody who is caught will be made to face the law. The current government has vowed never to watch on as Ghana’s environment gets destroyed by illegal mining.