The public has been urged to volunteer information leading to the arrest and prosecution of beneficial owners (BOs) of illegal mining operations to curb the menace that has resulted in widespread pollution of major water-bodies in the country.
According to Chief Executive of the Minerals Commission, Martin Ayisi, it will take concerted and collective efforts for government to be successful in its quest to stop illegal mining activities.
To this end, he maintained that the support of Ghanaians providing sufficient intelligence on the operations of illegal miners will contribute significantly to putting a stop to the practice which come with devastating environmental impacts.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ayisi reiterated that government continues committing resources to the various stakeholders in a bid to sanitise the small-scale mining sector while flushing-out illegal mining operations.
He mentioned, for instance, acquisition of the five speedboats which were recently inaugurated to be used for patrolling the Pra, Ankobrah, Offin and Birim Rivers, as well as the Black Volta.
This is a way of preventing illegal miners from returning to mine in the water-bodies, while more speedboats are expected to be provided to cover almost every river-body in the country.
Furthermore, government has acquired and distributed some one hundred mercury-free units of gold processing equipment – known as ‘gold kacha’ – to the revamped small-scale mining sector, which now includes the community mining scheme. This, among others, is meant to promote responsible mining.
Other measures include geological investigation of designated areas to identify mineralised regions for allocation to small-scale miners, drone surveillance, and tracking earth-moving equipment among others.
The Minerals Commission CEO made these remarks in response to questions from journalists during a press conference to address a video circulating on social media about alleged illegal mining activity in one of the country’s water-bodies.
The Minerals Commission, he said, has taken notice of the video and commenced investigations to confirm its validity, following which swift action will be taken by the Commission.
“We will get to the bottom of the matter – and the new dimension being deployed by the illegal miners, who work in the night and close before daybreak to avoid detection,” he stated.
Mr. Ayisi observed that formerly, while efforts were made to rid water-bodies of illegal mining operations upon receiving intelligence notice, the illegal miners found a way to return to their operations after some weeks or months.
This, he explained, informed the determination to find a permanent solution by deploying security services to patrol the water-bodies; especially some five river-bodies that have become notorious for illegal mining.
He assured the general public that these patrols will not only focus on main water-bodies but also on their tributaries and the small streams which feed into them.
Mr. Ayisi reiterated that a tracking regulation has been passed, with a tracking control room to be functional in September this year.
In addition to the permanent patrols, he said, the tracking will help – together with drones connected to control systems – and will aid the effort to crack-down on illegal mining operations.