The renewed fight against illegal mining (galamsey) in the country is to focus on foreign nationals and the kingpins sponsoring activities of illegal miners, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, has said.
According to him, the focus on the kingpins, barons and foreign nationals is to cut the sources of funding of these illegal miners and also help deal with the menace in a very holistic and effective manner.
“As we say in our local parlance, if you kill a snake and chop off the head, it becomes a mere rope. So we have taken the decision to go after these foreign nationals and the kingpins and we believe that once we succeed with that we will make giant strides in the fight against galamsey in the country,” he said.
The minister disclosed this when he took his turn at the bi-weekly Minister’s Briefing organised by the Ministry of Information in Accra yesterday.
He said the government was fully committed to this fight and would ensure that anyone found culpable was made to face the full rigours of the law.
To this end, he explained that the Office of the Attorney-General was working to ensure expeditious trial in all matters bordering on illegal mining.
“You might have read in the news yesterday, that two Nigerians were sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment by a Circuit Court in Tarkwa.
“Under the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act, 2019 (Act 995, the punishment for foreigners engaged in illegal mining is 20 years imprisonment plus a fine of not less than GH¢1.2 million, plus deportation after serving the sentence. And for Ghanaians, the minimum punishment is 15 years’ imprisonment, and a fine of GH¢120,000.00,” he explained.
And all these enhanced punishments,MrJinapor said, had been introduced to deter people from illegal mining.
In addition to these, he said a cocktail of new measures, including formally receiving the consent of chiefs whose areas are endowed with gold and Metropolitan, Municipal, District Chief Executives before concessions could be awarded.
Mr Jinapor stated that to remove the issue of influence, the security personnel deployed in the fight had been empowered to take orders only from their command, not the policy makers.
However, he said, there was the need for all Ghanaians to join hands in the fight since it required a collective effort.
“Again, we need your support, as media, to let the general public know these punishments, so that those engaged in this business will think twice when going to the field or recruiting people to go to the field.
“We all have a role to play in this fight, and we will continue to count on your collaboration for the protection of our lands, forests and natural environment,” he said.
BY CLIFF EKUFUL