Several equipment used for illegal mining activities on River Offin were yesterday destroyed and confiscated by security personnel as part of exercises to clamp down on illegal mining activities in the river and adjoining streams.
The equipment included chanfangs, generators, water pipes, barrels, among others.
The operation was undertaken by Operation Halt II, a military team deployed to rid forest reserves and water bodies off illegal mining activities.
The operation followed a viral video on social media which reported the illegal mining activities on the River Offin.
Addressing a press conference in Accra yesterday, Chief Executive of the Minerals Commission, Martin Ayisi, said his outfit had been made aware of the mining illegalities in the River Offin, resulting in the military operation to clear the perpetrators.
While some of the equipment were set on fire, others including earthmoving equipment, he noted, were confiscated and de-mobilised.
Acknowledging the role of the public in the fight against the menace, he urged residents in mining areas to immediately volunteer information on illegal mining activities to the relevant authorities for redress.
Mr Ayisi noted that, although efforts to clamp down on the menace were underway, the benefits of illegal mining to perpetrators provide an incentive to them to continue their activities, hence the need for the public to support efforts to stop it.
Already, he said, the Commission in collaboration with the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources had rolled out measures to curb illegal mining activities in river bodies, which have been declared as ‘Red Zones.’
Among the measures, he noted, was the introduction of river guards and the deployment of five speed boats on five river bodies including Pra, Offin, Birim and Ankobra.
He explained that the river guards and speed boats to be operated by personnel of the Ghana Navy were to fight illegal mining activities on river bodies and adjoining streams.
“The speed boats will patrol these water bodies 24 hours every day to clear all structures and mining activities on rivers.
The government has pledged to acquire more speed boats. So hopefully within some few months, we will be able to clear our waters,” Mr Ayisi added.
The CEO said the commission was undertaking geological investigations to determine and demarcate lands that were suitable for small scale mining.
This, he noted, was in line with the government’s Community Mining Scheme (CMS), which was designed to enable all persons interested in mining activities to engage in it.
To enable partakers of the CMS produce efficiently without destroying the environment, Mr Ayisi said the government procured and distributed 100 mercury-free Gold Katcha machines adding that many would be distributed in the coming months as the scheme keeps expanding.
Additionally, the Commission established District Mining Committees to work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and local assemblies to supervise and properly regulate mining activities, he stated.
He called for concerted efforts in the fight against illegal mining saying that “the commission and government alone cannot win the fight against illegal mining.”
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS