The Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, Mr John Allotey, has stated that no small scale mining company has been granted the lease or permits to operate in any forest reserve in the country.
To this end, he said any small scale mining company or firm operating in any forest reserve anywhere in the country was engaged in illegal mining and would be flushed out.
MrAllotey disclosed this in Accra yesterday when he accompanied his sector Minister, Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, to take his turn at the Minister’s briefings organised by the Ministry of Information.
He noted that the Commission was against all forms of small scale mining in the forest areas of the country and would not sit down for it to continue.
MrAllotey bemoaned the situation where mining trenches were scattered across the whole country, stressing that this are prevalent in especially parts of Ashanti and the two Western regions in the country, serving as death trap to their guards.
He mentioned the Bekwai, SefwiWiaso and Tarkwa areas specifically as operating this illegal mining menace.
The commission he said was training forest guards to contain these illegal miners who wielded AK47s as against the forest guards who use pump action guns.
MrAllotey said about 900 Forestry guards were being trained at Asutsuare in the Eastern Region by the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) to counter these illegal miners and loggers who operate mostly in the night.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources,MrJinapor, said illegal mining operatives within forest reserves now were using recruited armed security with sophisticated assault rifles and other weaponry.
He said their activities are usually carried out at night while Forest Services Division (FSD) field staff has limited military training in self-defence and weapon handling.
Mr Jinapor said the limited pump action guns available to their teams were no match to the sophisticated weaponry at the disposal of the illegal miners.
He said illegal mining and lumbering had become the main drivers of deforestation in the country.
Responding to a question on Professor Frimpong-Boateng’s report, he said it was an assessment of his term as the chairman of the Inter Ministerial Committee on Mining (IMCM) which ended in 2021 and had nothing to do with the current fight.
However, he said there were some useful lessons learned from the previous fight and had incorporated them into the new fight.
BY CLIFF EKUFUL