200 Soldiers Fight Galamsey

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s determination to stamp out illegal mining, popularly called galamsey, received a major boost when he authorised the Ghana Armed Forces to commence an operation to remove all persons and logistics involved in mining from the country’s water bodies.

This was in furtherance of the resolutions of the final communiqué of the Stakeholder Dialogue on Small Scale Mining held on April 14 and 15, 2021, and the move is to ensure that mining within water bodies is immediately stopped.

The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, in a statement, said the operation commenced at 0600 hours on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 on the River Pra in the Central and Western regions.

According to him, 200 officers of the Ghana Armed Forces are involved in the operation, adding that the Ministry of Defence and the Ghana Armed Forces would provide a detailed brief of developments and sustainability efforts at 1200 hours on Friday, April 30, 2021.

DAILY GUIDE has learnt that as part of the massive operation currently ongoing, the military are using helicopter for aerial reconnaissance to support the efforts to rid the country’s water bodies of all galamsey activities.
President’s Call

Opening the national dialogue on small scale mining recently, President Akufo-Addo reaffirmed his commitment towards clamping down on illegal mining, saying, “I will not hesitate to act where the evidence is hard before the police. And I will do so irrespective of the standing of the person or persons involved.”

He had said that to be able to fight the galamsey menace head-on, in order to protect the water bodies and the entire environment, all political parties must have a common voice, adding that it should not be left for one group to fight, saying, “We cannot have one part of the political divide campaigning for galamsey in the bush and the other waging an official fight against galamsey in the open.”

“We must demonstrate that we love our land and are capable of taking care of it ourselves,” he said, insisting “we do not need foreigners to campaign for the protection of Ghanaian lands, our inheritance. We do not need special interest groups to campaign for the protection of Ghanaian soil for flora and fauna.”

No Prospecting

On Thursday, April 22, the government moved a step further in the fight when it suspended all activities and operations in respect of any reconnaissance and/or prospecting licences in forest reserves until further notice.

The directive, which was signed by Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, also gave persons and/or companies engaged in reconnaissance and/or prospecting in forest reserves, seven (7) days to cease their operations and evacuate their equipment accordingly.

The statement said the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has a mandate to ensure the sustainable management and utilisation of the nation’s lands, forests and wildlife resources as well as the efficient management of the mineral resources for socio-economic growth and development.

It also said the ministry has taken note of the unfortunate and unlawful practice of some persons and/or companies acquiring licences under the pretext of undertaking reconnaissance and/or prospecting in forest reserves and yet proceed to engage in illegal mining in such forest reserves, with its obvious adverse consequences on the environment.

The minister also directed the Minerals Commission, with immediate effect, not to accept, process and/or recommend the grant, including renewal and/or extension of reconnaissance and prospecting licences in forest reserves.

“The minister has served notice on and requested the various Regional Security Councils to strictly enforce these directives,” the statement said.

Water Technology

In the ensuing debate, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), Professor Richard Kwasi Amankwah, has indicated that the university has developed a new technology capable of cleansing polluted rivers in the country.

He told the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor and his delegation on Tuesday that the technology had already been tried on a small river at Tarkwa and that it worked perfectly.

Prof. Amankwah said the technology is one of the four strategic interventions the university could use to help the fight against the galamsey menace, and mentioned introduction of national sustainable small-scale mining awareness campaign programme day dubbed: “Catch them Young” as another strategy that could be explored.

He indicated that they would use mining model programmes from class four to teach children to respect the environment and observe mining regulations.

The setting up of an annual Small-Scale Mining School to educate miners on issues pertaining to mining laws and regulations will be another form of the strategy, and pledged the university’s readiness to collaborate with the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to plant five million trees on June 11 under the Green Ghana Project.

By Ernest Kofi Adu