Regional News of Wednesday, 30 April 2014
Illegal mining activities are increasing in Ghana, despite moves by a Presidential taskforce to put down the unlawful trade, Wacam a non-governmental organization, has said.
“Even installations that are not commissioned, such as Bui and other areas are under threat from Galamsey,” a top official of Wacam, Mrs Hannah Owusu Koranteng, said on Tuesday.
The term ‘Galamsey’ is a Ghanaian slang used loosely to describe illegal mining activities around the country.
Mrs. Owusu Koranteng – a trained Environmental Scientist and Associate Executive Director of Wacam – told Citi News that her NGO recently toured parts of the country, and found evidence of extensive damage to lands and water bodies.
“Formerly [Galamsey] used to be [endemic] around the southern part of Ghana. Now [it is] everywhere, apart from areas that we may not have gold or diamond,” she said.
May 14, 2014 will mark a exactly a year since President John Dramani Mahama inaugurated a taskforce mandated to flash out Ghanaians and foreigners working as illegal miners across the country.
In his speech at the inauguration, President Mahama said the activities of illegal miners were dangerous to the environment and water bodies, adding that his government was not going to allow such activities to cause conflict, dislocation, environmental degradation and unemployment in the country.
He said, “Government is not against small scale mining, but want them to go through the required procedures that govern the mining sector.”
The members of the task force are: Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Chairman; Mr. Mark Woyongo, Minister for Defence, member; Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister for Interior, member; Dr. Joe Oteng Adjei, member, and Ms. Hannah Tetteh, member.
At the inauguration, President Mahama empowered the taskforce to, among other responsibilities, seize all the equipment used by illegal miners use, arrest and prosecute both Ghanaians and foreign nationals engaged in illegal mining in Ghana, deport all non-Ghanaians engaged in the practice and revoke licenses of Ghanaians who have sub-leased their mining concessions to non-citizens of Ghana.
Two months after it launched its crackdown, the taskforce announced that it had arrested and repatriated thousands of Chinese illegal miners operating in Ghana. The taskforce is currently in the second phase of its activities, which includes reclaiming destroyed lands and heavily polluted rivers.
In spite of their efforts, Mrs. Owusu Koranteng says the trend of illegal mining around the country has seen no significant change since the taskforce launched its crackdown.