Some small scale miners and illegal miners have begun operating in Wassa Amenfi municipality in the Western North Region despite the ban on illegal mining popularly known as ''galamsey'' by the government.
The continues operations of illegal miners indicate that the licensing regime by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, IMCIM aimed at sanitising the small-scale mining sector is not making the desired impact.
About 900 small-scale miners who were cleared by the IMCIM to return to their concessions following the lifting of the ban on small-scale mining were required to obtain operating permits from the Minerals Commission before they began their mining activities. However, some small-scale and illegal miners have started operating in the Wassa area without the required permits.
This was revealed when some mining companies in the Western, Western North and Ashanti regions were toured on April 3, 2019, by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr. Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh. It was observed that some of the small-scale miners were busily engaged in what the minister described as "illegal mining" along the road. At Wassa Anankor, for instance, scores of the illegal miners ran to hide when Mr. Asomah-Cheremeh and his entourage stopped to inspect their activities.
Some of the illegal miners who later came out of their hideout after the team leader had been apprehended by the minister's bodyguard claimed that the concession belonged to T.T. Brothers Company in Accra, adding that they were only caretakers of the concession. At the site, there was a signpost at the concession, with "TT Brothers Company" and the IMCIM clearance embossed on it, giving the indication that the company had been cleared to mine.
However, the Chief Inspector of Mines at the Minerals Commission, Mr. Kofi Adiei, who was part of the entourage, confirmed that the company had not acquired the necessary operating permit from the commission to move into its concession to mine.
The minister, Mr. Asomah-Cheremeh also noted that small-scale miners who had been cleared by the IMCIM to ensure that they acquired operating permits from the Minerals Commission before they could enter their concessions to mine.
He stressed that the ministry would crack the whip on any company which flouted the rules of engagement.
"Acquiring clearance from the IMCIM is not enough for one to start mining. I am very shocked at what I am seeing here because it is not acceptable. We will arrest and sanction any company which goes contrary to the law," he emphasized.
Government places ban on importation of excavators
Meanwhile, the government has placed a temporary ban on the importation of excavators in efforts to fight illegal mining in Ghana. The ban takes effect from May 1, 2019, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Transport and signed by the sector minister, Mr. Kwaku Ofori Asiamah.
According to the statement, the ban will remain in effect until further notice. It said Cabinet at its sitting on March 27, 2019, placed the temporary ban.
“This has become necessary following government’s decision to combat the illegal mining phenomenon, popularly referred to as galamsey,” the statement explained and, accordingly, urged the public to take note of the directive.
Explaining the rationale further, Mr. Asiamah said the government was committed to the fight against galamsey and was bent on instituting measures aimed at curbing the menace.
On the issue of the fate of excavators which have been shipped and are in transit prior to the ban, Mr. Asiamah said: “the importers would have to provide documents to show they indeed imported the excavators before the ban.”
Illegal mining, he stated had destroyed part of Ghana’s forest cover and water bodies and it was, therefore, important for all to support government’s efforts to fight the hazard.
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