The Lands and Forestry Minister says illegal mining popularly known as ‘galamsey’ thrived because of the total breakdown of law in the country.
John Peter Amewu said stopping galamsey is not “magic and it did not have to take the whole media wasting commercial hours trying to fight for mother Ghana.”
Contributing to the debate on the galamsey fight on Joy FM’s Ghana Connect programme Friday, he said fighting the menace hinges on three pillars: “the law, enforcement and application of technology.”
According to him, if the laws were working well, a Russian will not come into the country to illegally operate a small-scale mining concession reserved for Ghanaians.
His comment was in reaction to the arrest of four expatriates operating an illegal gold mine at Tontokrom in the Amansie West District of the Ashanti Region.
The Minister upon arriving on the scene directed the shutdown of the mining site by the company, Geo Professional Services (GPS). He said the company had flouted the May 17, 2017 directive by the Lands Commission which placed a moratorium on small-scale mining.
The four top managers of the company – Coemwotit Putats and Chepainyi Serchii – all Ukrainians – Farid Issaer, a Russian and one other person, were sent to Accra for interrogation and further action.
Owned and run by Russians and Ukrainians, the company was mining on concessions fronted by three Ghanaian companies – Kasmil Mining Company Limited, K. Afriyie and Sons Precious Metal Company and King Solomon Mining Company.
Mr Amewu reiterated that the fight is not against any forign national especially Chinase, some of whom have been arrested in connection with illegal mining.
He bemoaned the loss of revenue to government in taxes considering that in the recent arrest, they were operating illegally on huge acres of land for a small-scale mining firm, that is not supposed to pay taxes.
The Lands Minister confirmed that all small-scale miners have evacuated from the mining sites and the site inspection will continue to drive away and arrest recalcitrant operators.
“If the laws were working properly, I don’t think a Russian will come to Ghana and get a license for small-scale mining, having a military personnel protecting his business.
“It means there was a total breakdown in the structures and that is what we have to resolve as a country,” he said.