Dr. Samuel Sarpong, Ashanti Regional Minister, has inaugurated an eight-member committee to regulate and streamline the activities of illegal mining in the region.
The eight-member committee would be chaired by the Deputy Ashanti Regional Minister, Joseph Yammin.
Membership of the committee comprises the Ashanti Regional Police Commander, DCOP Kofi Boakye, Commander of the Fourth Battalion of Infantry (4BN) of the Ghana Army, Major CT Broni and representatives from the Minerals Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency, with the Chief Director at the Ashanti Regional Coordinating Council, Mr. Kofi Dwomoh Asubonteng, as Secretary.
The committee is expected to conduct periodic inspections on all small scale mining sites, in order to take pre-emptive actions needed to stop illegal mining in the region.
According to a press release, signed by Clement C. Kegeri, Public Relations Officer of the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC), the committee has also been mandated to scrutinize mining licenses and any relevant documents on mining concessions, to ascertain the rules of engagement agreed upon by the authorities and small scale firms.
Outlining the scope of operations for the committee, the Minister said the committee’s authority has no fixed time line, and is mandated to confiscate equipment and vehicles used in illegal mining activities.
The committee can also arrest and prosecute illegal miners to serve as a deterrent to potential offenders.
The Minister has, therefore, called on all small scale miners in the region to present their licenses to the committee for inspection, and further action. He urged the committee to live up to expectation, and warned that anyone found to be collaborating with the illegal miners would not be spared.
He disclosed that all stakeholders, including civil society, are also informed to support the fight against the activities of illegal miners popularly known in the local jargon as Galamsey, in order to help protect and preserve river bodies and all farmlands in the region.
The Ashanti Region of Ghana is home to Anglogold Ashanti, the country’s biggest gold mine. Apart from local residents who engage in the practice of illegal mining, Ghana has lately had to deal with the influx of foreigners engaging in ‘Galamsey’ too. Last year over 2000 Chinese migrants were deported for engaging in the practice.