4 Chinese Galamseyers Arrested In Forest Reserves

FOUR MORE Chinese nationals have been arrested in connection with illegal mining operations inside forest reserves, particularly in the Ashanti Region District of Amansie Central.

The foreigners were arrested by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining at a mining site located deep inside the Diaso and Pamprama Forest Reserves at the weekend.

The illegal miners popularly known as galamsey operators had cut down many trees and destroyed several hectares of the forest land about the size of 10 football pitches when they were arrested by the taskforce.

Their operation was said to have gone on for close to a year without detection by forest rangers and the district assembly.

WO1 Odei Nyarko, commander of the taskforce, was overwhelmed by the wanton devastation of the forest by the illegal miners.

According to him, the destruction at the Pamprama Forest Reserve is the biggest he had come across since the clampdown operation was started by the taskforce.

Leader of the taskforce, Nana Twum Agyekum, said the miners had no permit to mine let alone in a forest reserve, pointing out that the ban was still in place.

However, a former military officer who heads the security of Heritage Imperial Mining Company, WO Addo Boateng, insisted they had documents granting them permission to mine in the forest.

He told the taskforce their operations had support of people in high positions whose names he could not provide.

The latest arrest brings to 20 the number of Chinese nationals arrested recently over galamsey operation inside forest reserves in the Ashanti Region alone.

Last week Thursday, the taskforce arrested 16 Chinese and some 13 Ghanaians at the Krobo forest reserve in the Amansie Central District of the Ashanti Region during a special operation to crackdown on illegal gold mining.

They were arrested at 15 gold mine locations across the district inside the forest, while 30 excavators, four pick-up vehicles, two caterpillars, 14 pump-action guns, one M16 gun, 200 live cartridges, five cutlasses, and a sum of GH¢45,000 were seized during the raid.

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

Illegal gold mining in the forest has left behind huge dugouts and felled trees, as chemicals like mercury, which are used to sieve the mud to bring out the gold, had also drained into nearby rivers.

Government, in April last year, issued 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.