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Sixteen Chinese and some 13 Ghanaians have been arrested in a forest reserve at the Amansie Central District of the Ashanti Region in a special operation to tackle illegal mining.

The Excavator Evacuation Team of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, on Thursday, carried out the special operation at 15 locations in the district in the heart of the Krobo Forest.

Led by WO1 Odei Nyarko, the taskforce seized 30 excavators, four pick-ups, two caterpillars, 14 pump-action guns, one M16 gun, 200 live cartridges, five cutlasses and cash of GH¢45,000 during the raid.

The taskforce, which was alerted to the illegal mining operation about five days ago, also destroyed some chanfan machines that were being used by the illegal miners, popularly known as ‘galamsey’ operators.

Spokesperson of the taskforce, Twum Agyekum, said the suspects had been handed over to the Obuasi Police to carry out further investigations that will lead to their prosecution.

According to him, since the clampdown on the activities of ‘galamsey’ operators and ban on all forms of small-scale mining activities was issued, some illegal miners have been operating at night to avoid detection.

Illegal gold mining in the forest has left behind huge dugouts and a degraded forest, while chemicals like Mercury, which is used to sieve the mud to isolate the gold, are also draining into the nearby rivers.

Government, in April last year, placed a ban on illegal gold mining in the country to stop environmental damage and pollution of water bodies.

Currently, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, is planning to roll out a Multi-Sectoral Mining Integrated Project (MMIP) ahead of the lifting of the ban.

The project, which is intended to, among others, regulate and assist Artisanal and Small-scale Miners (ASMs) to improve the efficiency of their operations, hinges on three main pillars- statutory enforcement, social interventions and technological adaptations.
Source: Daily Guide

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