The Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, George Mireku Duker has directed the disbandment of all changfang committees set-up by illegal mining groups to aid their operations in the Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipality.
Additionally, he charged small-scale miners in the area to confiscate and burn changfangs and other logistics used by some persons for illegal mining and arrest them if possible to help clamp down on illegal mining.
Speaking at an engagement forum with residents of the municipality yesterday, he explained that, resolving the menace of illegal mining, which had led to the destruction of water bodies and forest reserves, was a shared responsibility, hence the need for the residents to take up active roles in enforcing the mining laws.
Let’s begin by arresting anyone who is engaged in changfang business and burn the changfangs as well. This will help in our efforts to stop illegal mining in our country,” Mr Duker added.
Currently, he stated that, the government was strictly enforcing the posting of reclamation bonds provision in the mining laws to ensure all small-scale miners reclaimed mine sites after operations.
Any small-scale miner who fails to reclaim mine sites, he said, would be sanctioned by losing the reclamation bond and non-renewal of mining licence.
The Deputy Minister cautioned against the persistence of illegal mining in the municipality saying that it would intensify calls for a total ban on small scale mining.
“We should peer review our friends in the sector. We should make sure we are working in line with the rules and regulations. If we don’t stop others from engaging in illegality, those who want to see small-scale mining banned will be emboldened to push for it,” he added.
Currently, he said, the small scale mining sector was providing employment to more than one million Ghanaians with about five million depending on it as a source of livelihood.
He stated that, the banning of small scale mining could have security implications for the country as it could render a huge number of the populace unemployed.
As part of interventions to fight illegal mining, Mr Duker noted that river guards have been deployed to patrol water bodies and prevent illegal mining activities in river beds.
Also, he said the government had procured mercury-free machines to aid the operations of small scale miners and help to stop the use of mercury at mining sites.
Nana Adakwa Bediako III, Apinto Dzasehene asked large scale mining firms to cede part of their concessions to the youth of the area to enable them obtain jobs.
He lauded the government for introducing the Community Mining Scheme (CMS) and called for it expansion to create jobs for the youth.
He expressed concern about the wanton pollution of water bodies and called on all to support efforts to curb illegal mining.
The Chief Executive of the Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipal Assembly, Benjamin Kesse, urged all small scale miners to help end the operations of unscrupulous persons whose operations threaten the small scale mining sector.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS