Minerals Commission seeks public support to curb illegal mining

The Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission is confident the operations of its special taskforce will help curb the spate of illegal mining activities in the country.

Officials however say sustained success will depend on public cooperation and collaboration to expose individuals and syndicates involved in promoting illegal gold mining.

The increasing rate of foreigners in Ghana's small scale mining sector has been a source of grave worry to the citizenry.

Gold mined illegally leads to land degradation, destruction of farmlands, pollution of water bodies, high accident rates leading to death at the mines and rise in social vices in communities. The illegal miners also do not pay royalties and taxes to the State.

“We're liaising very well with the national security sub-committee on lands and natural resources and we've been going round arresting, especially the foreigners in the field; that one is never done anywhere in the world that foreigners will go to some place and they'll start illegally taking up their natural property”, said Joseph Frimpong, a Mines Inspector in the Ashanti region.

There is presently a renewed drive to flush out such illegal miners to save the environment and protect natural resources.

Lands and Natural Resources Minister Alhaji Inusah Fuseini has stated that moves have been initiated to identify and weed out companies with expired licenses who are illegally leasing out concessions to galamsey operators.

He also wants to expose politicians and chiefs involved in galamsey operations

President John Mahama has also assured the security agencies of adequate support to flush out illegal miners across the country.

Mr. Joseph Frimpong however believes uprooting the illegal activities requires deeper collaborations, especially in reporting practices at their early stages.

“For small scale mining, no foreigner is permitted, no foreigner is allowed”, he emphasized. “Yes we welcome foreigner but we're not expecting that they go into illegal activity. Landlords should report them, that even though they've taken rooms and accommodation in your houses, they are engaged in illegal activities”.

Mr. Frimpong has commended the proactive posture of interest groups in the Ahafo Ano North District of Ashanti to uproot galamsey activities.

He expects local and traditional authorities as well as other interest groups to be conversant with laws governing mining in the country, especially the Minerals and Mining Act, Act 703 and subsequent legislative instruments.

Meanwhile, trade and business groups are taking keen interest to sensitize members on the need to get involved in the national drive to discourage illegal mining.

President of the Ghana Employers Association, Terry Darko, says businesses have the responsibility to speak out against such practices.

“All of us are witnessing the way small scale mining is destroying our environment. As businesses we may need to speak because if the environment is compromised, it will affect the health and safety of our workers of today and the general tomorrow and it can create problems for all of us. So let us not think that it is the responsibility of only the security agencies”, he noted.

Story by Ghana/Luv Fm/Kofi Adu Domfeh