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01.04.2006 Regional News

Illegal miners given ultimatum to help safeguard nation's security

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Cape Coast, March 31, GNA- Illegal Miners otherwise known as 'galamsey' operators in the central region, were on Friday given an ultimatum to regularize their operations within one month, or cease operating.

The Chief Director of the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), Mr Harry Imbeah, who issued the warning, stressed that illegal mining endangered the security of the nation, because the explosives they used for their activities, could get into wrong hands. Mr Imbeah, who was addressing a forum to sensitise mining communities and other stakeholders on the need for the operators to regularize their activities, also warned that after the deadline galamsey operators would be "flushed out" and those who fail to heed to the directive, would be prosecuted when caught, and described such activities as not only illegal, but also stealing. District Chief Executives, assembly members, opinion leaders, chiefs and representatives of galamsey operators from the four mining districts of Upper Denkyira, Gomoa, Mfantsiman and Abura-Asebu-Kwamankese attended.

The Chief Director, said such illegal mining operations, among others, also contributed to the proliferation of firearms and child trafficking as well as ritual murders, non-payment of taxes and royalties and destruction of farmlands and water bodies. He, in that regard, tasked the chiefs in particular, to educate their people on the need to regularize their mining activities, and in turn told them (chiefs), that it was also illegal for them to sell their stool lands as mining concessions to mining companies.

Mr Imbeah said this is because the law stipulates that "every mineral in its natural state wherever they are, be it on the land, sea or river belong to Ghanaians and is vested in the government for or on behalf of the people of Ghana".

For his part, Mr Biagya Robert Yakubu, Technical Director of Mines, of the Ministry of Mines, lands and forestry also told the operators that their activities could be streamlined and reclamation of land made easier, if they regularized their operations. Mr Felix Addo-Okyireh, Senior Programme Officer of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regretted that although sand mining at the beaches has been banned, some recalcitrant people still engaged in it and warned that those who would be caught would be dealt with.

Mr Isaac Edumadze, Regional Minister, urged all galamsey operators to cooperate with the authorities to ensure sanity in the business.

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