The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh has strongly cautioned illegal miners to desist from the act or risk stiffer punishment that could end them in jail.
Mr. Asomah-Cheremeh disclosed this at Gbane when the management of Yeyenya and Pubortaaba mining group supported by Shaanxi mining firm complained about the resurgence of galamsey intruders into the mine.
He said the situation requires urgent action by the Ministry.
The Minerals Commission and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources upon Cabinet directives in 2019 caused the closure of all illegal pits linking the mines of Yeyenya and Pubortaaba.
But as at January 24, 2020, 7 illegal miners have been arrested by security officials of Shaanxi and handed them over to the Talensi District Police Command after they used ropes to access the underground of the mine to allegedly steal gold ore.
Speaking at Gbane during a working visit to the Yeyenya and Pubortaaba mines to ensure that all mining companies strictly abide by mining safety practices to avert deaths at mining sites, Mr. Asomah-Cheremeh warned illegal miners in the area to refrain from galamsey activities and take advantage of government community mining programmes or risk being jailed if convicted by the courts.
“Our concern now is to advise our brothers and sister who engage in galamsey not to do so because the law is very strict in this circumstance. Section 99 of Act 630 makes it an offence for anyone to engage in illegal mining. When you are caught and successfully prosecuted, the minimum sentence when convicted is 15 years and a maximum sentence of 25 years and all other such equipment used in the illegal mining activities are to be confiscated and handed over to the state”.
He reiterated that, it is in the interest of galamsey operators to desist from their activities in order not to incur the wrath of the law.
Mr. Cheremeh expressed satisfaction at safety mining mechanism being adopted by Shaanxi mining firm adding that, he was optimistic that by end of February 2020, the company would have met all safety standards by the Minerals Commission to commence full operations.
“Our visit is to encourage management of Yeyenya and Pubortaaba mines to see to safety measures of themselves and their workers and to make sure that, they go by EPA directions and rules and regulations governing mining. So, we are here to ensure that, proper safety measures as per the rules and regulations are put in place.
…And they have assured us that, by the end of February 2020, all the measures that, the Chief Inspector of Mines has put in place of which the management of the mines have agreed to, will be fully implemented and that we are praying that, the accidents that hitherto happened, we may not experience any of them again”.
For his part, the Public Relations Officer of Shaanxi mining, Mr. Maxwell Wooma appealed to the Ministry of Lands and Natural resources and the minerals commission to permanently sealed illegal pits in the area to avert deaths of illegal miners who invade their mine.
He opined that, the arrest of 7 illegal miners in their mine is a clear indication of illegal miners disregard of the minerals commission’s safety protocols, of which Shaanxi mining suffer the alibi of their criminal acts thus their plea.
“We (Shaanxi Mining) become the convenient alibi to anything unfortunate. When they jump into the underground of our mine and sometimes inhale blast fumes or endanger their lives, we bear the brunt of the illegal activities.”
“It is the reason why we are making this passionate appeal again, that, these pits should now be given more than permanent closure. And those whose names have come up through confessions of those we have arrested should be called to order and be reprimanded, so that, we can have a permanent solution to mining-related deaths in the area”.
by Marian Ansah