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Business News of Saturday, 9 February 2013

Source: Daily Guide

Illegal Chinese, Indian miners take over Minti

It appears government’s invitation to foreign investors to come and invest in the country is bringing in its wake the influx of all manner of unscrupulous persons.

Incidentally, one sector that is mostly affected by this scenario is mining.

CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE gathered that illegal mining activities are seriously taking place in the Bosome Freho District of Amansie South in the Ashanti Region, specifically in a town called Minti.

Of particular concern is the allegation that Chinese and Indians are at the forefront of the illegal mining operations in that town even though a lot of local people are also said to be engaged in the illegal act.

A youth group of the town, which recently stormed the paper’s head office in Accra to report the illegal mining activities, alleged that the chiefs in the Dadiease paramountcy had all been ‘bought’ by the foreigners who have given out a few cedis, hence the prevailing situation.

“About one square mile of land has been intercepted and there is massive destruction of people’s cocoa farms, as well as the pollution of water bodies in the area such as streams and rivers. The Chinese have been operating there since five months while the Indians have been there over a year,” the youth group’s spokesperson told the paper.

He said that in all, about 15 illegal mining firms, were operating on a concession occupied by Carlie Mining Company.

Also, there are two Chinese firms operating there with another local firm by name Winifil.

The group reported that owing to rise in the activities of ‘galamseyers’ in the area, a mining pit caved in on two male students of the Bodwesango Senior High School leading to their death about a fortnight ago.

Asked whether they had reported the development to the police, the group stated that they have on countless occasions informed the police at Nsuaem to take up the issue but anytime the police visit the area, they become ‘toothless bulldogs’ since they know most of the illegal miners.

With the exception of the chief of Minti, who is said to be opposed to the illegal mining, the youth group alleged that some chiefs in the area are engaged in the nefarious activity.

“The Chief of Minti has tried on several occasions to stop the activities but to no avail. The youth and farmers in the area are also very much worried about the situation because their sources of livelihood are being destroyed.”

The Minerals Commission’s branch at Konongo oversees the area. It has sent letters to the illegal miners to quit but they continuously perpetrate the acts.

Amponsah Tawiah, Director in charge of Mining Operations at the Minerals Commission, when contacted by this paper, confirmed the illegal mining operations.

Asked what his outfit would do to stem the operations, Mr Tawiah emphasized: “Once it involves illegal mining, it is a national security problem. We cannot go there personally to stop them.”

Owner of the concession, Spanky, who acquired it from the Indians, in a telephone interview with this paper, said that he got the concession after going through the appropriate formalities through the chiefs.

“We signed a legal document with them after approaching the Odikro. We have also been to the Minerals Commission. The chiefs asked me to build them a bridge, a KVIP and provide potable water for the town.”

He added that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had examined his company’s concession while the issue of compensation to the farmers had also been dealt with.

“Our mining licence got ready about a week ago,” he affirmed, adding that some chiefs of the town were to be blamed for the increase in the number of foreign illegal miners since the former had taken bribes between GH¢1,000 and GH¢2,000.

Efforts to contact the DCE of the area and the police at Nsuaem proved unsuccessful, as their mobile phones had been switched off

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