The Small-Scale Miners Association has threatened a three-day nationwide ant-government demonstration if the authorities at the helm of the illegal small-scale mining activities (galamsey) do not stop burning their equipment.
At a press conference at Ntaferewaso in the Twifo-Atti Morkwa District of the Central Region, the group’s Director of Communication, Mr Abdul Razak Alhassan, said “as far as we know, the military was deployed to specific river bodies but we are seeing a situation where they veer into communities with licensed small-scale miners and end up burning their equipment”.
“Some of the communities are Asamoakorom and Awusem, both in Twifo Praso District of the Central Region”, he said.
The group is demanding clarity on the anti-galamsey orders of the President.
“We need clarifications on the President’s directive to the military”, Mr Alhassan said.
According to him, “we do not understand why the government made a U-turn on the issues raised at the meeting held at the Accra International Conference Centre.”
“We never discussed anything about involving the military in clearing people operating with legally-acquired licences”, the group decried.
The group said if their concerns are not addressed in a week, they would hit the streets.
“We are giving the government seven days to address these concerns”, he said.
“If nothing is heard from them, we will embark on a three-day nationwide demonstration”, Mr Alhassan threatened.
A few days ago, OccupyGhana said it found it shocking that the government recently set some seized galamsey equipment on fire.
In a statement, the civil society group said it is “shocked to see pictures and films in which equipment allegedly being used in galamsey operations and apparently seized by security officials, have been set on fire”.
“While these dramatic optics might have the support of some, we think that it is a brazen illegality that will only exacerbate the situation and not help in the fight against galamsey”, the statement noted.
The anti-galamsey soldiers deployed by President Nana Akufo-Addo to stem the tide of illegal small-scale mining, destroyed some 127 changfans, nine excavators and a fuel pump during their recent operations.
The ‘operation halt’ soldiers also arrested two Chinese galamseyers.
Speaking about the operation, Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul told journalists at a press conference on Friday, 30 April 2021 that: “It is noted that since the operation commenced on Wednesday, 28 April 2021 to Thursday, 29 April 29 2021, the troops have destroyed a good deal of equipment including nine excavators, 127 changfans”.
“Furthermore, the following items have been seized and would be destroyed except items that will be used as exhibits in the court for prosecution: 8 by 24 plate batteries, one pump action gun case, a generator, a Huawei phone, a chainsaw machine, eight raincoats, fuel filters, non-citizen Ghana cards, two drilling equipment and two boots.”
“These items would be destroyed except what the police deem necessary for their work for prosecution, otherwise everything will be destroyed”, he said.
He said: “This operation will be conducted on all major river and forest reserves in all galamsey endemic regions throughout the country to rip them of illegal mining activities.”
“There will be aerial patrols at places where GAF has also swept past. Armed men would be authorised to take immediate action on anyone who returns to these river bodies to engage in galamsey activities.”
Read OccupyGhana’s full statement below:
4TH MAY 2021
OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT
GOVERNMENT, APPLY THE LAW ON ILLEGAL MINING!
OccupyGhana® is shocked to see pictures and films in which equipment allegedly being used in galamsey operations and apparently seized by security officials, have been set on fire.
While these dramatic optics might have the support of some, we think that it is a brazen illegality that will only exacerbate the situation and not help in the fight against galamsey.
The government’s epileptic and faltering fight [against] galamsey gives the impression that it is unwilling to follow and apply the law.
When Aisha Huang was first arrested, she was charged with some ludicrous, risible and insignificant administrative breaches of immigration regulations.
It took a protest and a petition by OccupyGhana® on 16th May 2017 for her to be charged with the proper offences under the Minerals and Mining Act, which, as we will show, provides for serious punishment for illegal mining.
We believe that her quiet and hurried deportation by the government was to avoid subjecting her to the full rigours of the law.
We insist that that unfortunate truncation of the judicial process sounded the death knell to the galamsey fight.
But the law in the Minerals and Mining Act is clear. There is a fine and imprisonment between 15 and 25 years for each of the following crimes:
buying or selling minerals without a licence or authority; mining in breach of the law; abetting any breach of the mining law; contracting a non-Ghanaian to provide mining support services; abetting the breach of the mining laws by a foreigner; fabricating or manufacturing floating platforms or other equipment to be used for mining in our water bodies; and providing an excavator for an illegal mining operation.
The Act further provides that a non-Ghanaian who illegally mines or abets illegal mining attracts a large fine and imprisonment between 20 and 25 years, and shall be deported AFTER serving the sentence. This is what should have been applied to Aisha Huang.
Also, and of particular importance to us, is the legal provision that equipment used in any of these offences is required to be first seized and kept in police custody. Then, when the person using the equipment for the illegal mining activity is convicted, the court will order the forfeiture of the equipment the state. Then the Minister has 60 days within which to allocate the equipment to a state institution. There is absolutely no legal room for simply torching the equipment. It is illegal and must stop forthwith.
We think that all the efforts to end illegal mining will not achieve anything until we resolve to simply enforce the law. If the security agencies make arrests and the law is not applied, it weakens their resolve and says to all that we are not serious about ending this menace. And the judiciary should need no encouragement to try cases with dispatch so that Ghanaians can see results in real-time. It cannot be business as usual.
We have two simple messages for the government – (1) Galamsey is illegal: the fight against it cannot be based on illegality and, (2) If you want to win the fight against Galamsey, APPLY THE LAW..
Still in the service of God and Country