Surrender All Excavators Within 30 Days - Amewu Directs Equipment Dealers
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, has given a 30-day ultimatum to operators, dealers in and owners of excavators and other mining equipment to remove them or have themselves to blame.
Those interested in the extractive sector, he said, should not misunderstand the posture of the government on galamsey, saying, “As a government, we are not against mining, but anybody who wants to mine in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly manner must do so appropriately.”
Speaking on the first day of his two-day tour of illegal mining sites in the Western Region yesterday, the minister said he was happy that there was visible calmness on the galamsey front after the initial three-week ultimatum.
During a drive through some galamsey sites, it was observed that illegal Chinese miners were no longer in the forest, although some Ghanaians were still in serious business but fled on seeing the minister’s team.
The minister was appalled by the way operators and owners of excavators and other mining equipment had moved the equipment to the middle of communities, with the view to returning them to the mining sites later.
Mr Amewu gave an assurance that the government was going to regroup most of the operators to ensure responsible mining.
“After that, we will place the groups under multilateral mining integration projects where they will mine under supervision in a more sustainable manner,” he stated
“Excavators that will henceforth be engaged in mining communities will be licensed, with comprehensive tracking systems to identify their location and ownership,” he said.
“The owners must from today move their equipment to where they came from and after sanitising the front under the multilateral mining integration project for responsible mining, they can apply for authorisation before the equipment is deployed,” he said.
Aside from illegal miners, some small-scale miners who were mining with prospecting licences were ordered to stop.
At one of the sites operated by Okobeng Mining, the minister expressed disbelief at the way the company, with only a prospecting licence, could mine several hectares of land without permit.
When Mr Amewu demanded to see the owner of Okobeng Mining, which was mining very close to the heavily polluted Ankobra River, an official of the Minerals Commission attempted to give an explanation and that got the minister visibly irritated.
The Minerals Commission official told the minister that the owner had his licence about two months ago.
Not happy with the answer, Mr Amewu remarked: “Wait! You mean I have been in office for the past five months and I am not aware of the licence? Okobeng is operating and expected to have a permit and is degrading the environment in this manner?”
The minister, who was visibly unhappy with the work of the district mine inspector, said those who were underperforming should give way to people would work with diligence.
“I will recommend they proceed on leave,” the minister added.
At the entrance of the mine were two fully armed ex-military men with pump action guns and other military devices.
When the police escort interrogated them, the two guards said they were ex-military men engaged by the mine to provide security at the site.
They claimed that per military tradition, they were allowed to keep some military uniforms and other items when they retired from the army.