Nine Chinese illegal miners arrested as ban on small-scale mining ends today
Nine Chinese nationals mining illegally in the minerals-rich Juabo Forest in the Western Region have been arrested over the weekend.
Five of them were picked up on Friday and four on Sunday.
The arrests by the inter-ministerial taskforce on illegal mining and the Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners is part of an ongoing clampdown on destructive mining activities at illegal mining hotspots as the ban on small-scale mining is lifted Monday, December 17.
Luv FM’s Erastus Asare Donkor who has been with the authorities as they swoop known illegal mining hotspots reports that the joint task force at the weekend issued a stern warning to foreigners and small-scale miners with no license to stay away from the mines.
“The joint task force has also warned police, military and other persons posing as national security operatives to desist from assuming any regulatory role in extorting monies from miners,” Erastus reports Monday.
The swoop on the Chinese nationals mining illegally within the Juabo Forest and Dominase environs in the Western Region on Friday and Sunday has revealed there is still a strong Chinese presence in small-scale mining despite an embargo on foreign involvement in mining, reports Erastus.
Government announced the lifting of the ban on small-scale mining on Friday,but stressed that only small-scale miners that have had mining concessions validated will be allowed to mine in designated areas.
Minister for Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng said on Friday, December 14, 2018, that the two-year ban is being lifted because an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining has successfully developed a comprehensive policy framework to regularise small-scale mining across the country.
“The ban on small-scale mining is being lifted for the compliant ones to go back to work within the regularised and reformed framework. The list of complaint miners will be published in the electronic and print media on Monday, 17th December 2018,” the Minister said during the launch of the framework.
The Minister explained that information on vetted artisanal miners will also be made available on the notice boards of municipal and district assemblies.
“Unregistered or illegal miners who were referred to as ‘galamseyers’ are being organised into community mining cooperatives and provided with concessions to work legitimately under the supervision of the district committees,” he revealed.
Government imposed the ban on small-scale mining as part of a frontal attack on the activity in line with President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo promise to sanitise the sector at his inauguration as President.
Small-scale miners, some of whom are foreign nationals, flout environmental rules and use dangerous chemicals like mercury to mine, polluting freshwater bodies that support ecology or serve as strategic sources of drinking water.
The ban was scheduled for lifting in October 2017 but it was extended.
The extension angered the Small-Scale Miners Association of Ghana.
After unsuccessful threats against the government, the Association began lobbying the government to regularise the system and lift the indefinite ban.
The government then announced the policy to sanitise the sector, dubbed the Multi-sectoral Integrated Mining Project (MMIP), as well as alternative livelihood projects as part of preparatory steps to the lifting of the ban.
So far, 1,350 small-scale mining entities have been vetted to mine in designated concessions.
The Minister explained that a successfully vetted company must have valid company registration documents; valid permits and licences from regulatory agencies such as minerals commission, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Water Resources Commission; and the company must have a valid Tax Identification Number (TIN).
He added that the boundaries of the concession should have been mapped out by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM), which he chairs.
Also, the concessionaire must have a valid identification card from the IMCIM and QR Code equipped with scan codes from IMCIM.
The company must also have their machines, especially excavators and bulldozers licenced by Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) and also electronically tagged by approved agencies.
The government said it has acquired drones, some of which have been equipped with night vision sensors, monitor mining rich areas for illegal mining activities.