Illegal miners have started surrendering equipment – Deputy Lands Minister

The Deputy Lands and Natural Resources Minister says government’s campaign to end the activities of illegal miners is yielding results.

Benito Owusu-Bio said the ministry had received reports that some of the miners had surrendered equipment such as excavators to the security agencies in their communities.

Speaking to Araba Koomson on Joy FM’s Midday News Tuesday, the Minister said officials of the ministry will be travelling across the country to assess the gains made since the anti-galamsey campaign started.

Wednesday marks the end of the two weeks ultimatum Lands Minister, John Peter Amewu issued to galamsey operators to stop their activities or be prosecuted if apprehended.

Water bodies that served as the only source of drinking water for some communities have been destroyed with some river completely drying up. The Tano River in the Brong Ahafo Region has dried up for the first time in 40 years. Also, the Brim River in the Eastern Region and Ankobrah River in the Western Region have been polluted with cyanide used by the illegal miners.

The Ghana Water Company has shut down some of its water treatment plants across the country because the rivers from which it has to draw water for treatment are filled with grits and sand. It has warned the country will be importing water from its neighbours if the current activities of galamsey operators are not stopped.

Pressure is being mounted on government to end the practice in the coming days and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has promised to root it out. He said he will not allow the environment to be destroyed while he serves is President.

Lands Minister, Mr Amewu had earlier suggested equipment used by the illegal miners should be set on fire if they are seized from mining sites. This, he said, would serve as a disincentive to the operators.

Unfazed by government’s effort to ban their work, some of the illegal miners in Akwatia in the Eastern Region have warned of dire consequences if their activities are stopped.

Some of the miners told Joy News they will vote out President Akufo-Addo and the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) if they are denied their source of livelihood.

At Joy News’ 100 days Town hall event at the new Court Complex in Accra Monday, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia said government has fashioned out a document called Multilateral Mining Agreement to restructure small-scale mining operations in the country.

He said as part of the plans, small-scale mining will be restructured to enable them mine in an environmentally friendly way.

The Deputy Lands Minister who has been touring some mining sites in the country said the illegal miners have heeded to the call and are abandoning their tools.

“We heard reports that they [some illegal miners] are being moved from the mining areas but we are now going to inspect that,” he said.

He explained the miners are moving out of the mining areas because their sponsors do not want to lose their investment when their equipment are destroyed by security agencies.

“We will allow the law to work and in the long term we are going to roll out the Multilateral Mining Agreement.”