Over seven years of illegal mining deep inside one of the major rainforest reserves of the country, in the Amenfi Central district of the Western Region, has led to massive destruction and pollution of vast lands – estimated to cover about 24,000 acres.
The activity has destroyed portions of the Aminase Upper Wassa Forest Reserve, leaving in its wake large gullies full of poisonous stagnant water and mud-laden swamp fields and heaps of clay-sand.
The illegal miner, alleged to have been operating on the leased concession with a prospecting licence, according to the Head of the Inter-Ministerial Committee Taskforce on Illegal Mining, Francis Assibi-Abu, was named as C&G Alaska mining.
The company was busted by the Inter-Ministerial Committee Taskforce more than a week ago upon some intelligence, Mr. Assibi-Abu disclosed.
He said the Taskforce is determined to pursue and crack down on all forms of illegal mining activities in the country, adding that those linked to it, including foreigners, will be prosecuted.
Operations of the Taskforce, he stated, are not meant to destroy any person’s genuine business as some affected persons are alleging, but to curb the illegal wanton destruction and pollution of the country’s environment.
He explained that the lifting the ban on small-scale mining does not imply illegal miners can have a ‘field-day’. He observed that not every small-scale miner has been given the go-ahead to mine.
Government, he said, is rather screening a certain number of small-scale miners who will be given licences to go about their business.
In response to a question on who should be held responsible for destruction of the forest reserve, Mr. Assibi-Abu said the Forestry Commission is the appropriate institution to answer how the illegal miners found their way into the area since every forest reserve is under its care.
He said the Commission has guards provided with motorbikes who are supposed to be monitoring every forest reserve in the country.
He therefore noted that information on the operations of illegal miners in the forest reserve was not passed on all these years to the appropriate quarters for immediate action – which is mind-boggling.
While admitting that Ghanaians are to blame for the environmental destruction, in reference to a recent remark by an unnamed Chinese official in Accra, Mr. Assibi-Abu mentioned that most of the foreigners find their way to the gold mining areas of the country using Internet resources.