The Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Mr. Samuel Kofi Dzamesi, has asked chiefs to step up the fight against ‘galamsey’ operations in their jurisdictions.
Mr. Dzamesi made this known when he addressed separate durbars of the paramount chiefs, queens, and elders of the Bekwai, Fomena and Manso-Nkwanta Traditional Areas, all in the Ashanti Region.
The meeting was organized by the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs as a follow-up to a similar one it organized in November last year.
It was to ascertain how well the people had complied with the government’s directive to put a stop to illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey.
In attendance at the meetings were municipal and district chief executives, coordinating directors and assembly members are drawn from the Bekwai Municipality, Adansi North and Amansie-West Districts.
According to Mr. Dzamesi, the rate at which galamsey was impacting the environment negatively and affecting the health of people in the mining areas gave cause for worry.
He reminded the chiefs that the methods used in galamsey involved the use of mercury and other toxic chemicals that polluted rivers and streams and had serious implications for the health of generations yet unborn who might come up with debilitating and complex diseases.
He, therefore, appealed to the chiefs, as custodians of the land, to get actively involved in the crusade to clamp down on the activities of galamsey operators.
“The NPP, under the leadership of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, is concerned about the health of the people, which is why it has become necessary that galamsey is stopped,” he stated.
He stressed that the government had no intention to ban mining but was rather against illegal mining which was causing untold hardship to humans and destroying the environment.
Modern mining techniques
Mr. Dzamesi disclosed that about 1,600 illegal miners had received training in modern mining techniques on ways of extracting gold without the use of chemicals from resource persons from the George Grant University of Mines and Technology at Tarkwa in the Western Region.
Mr. Dzamesi informed the chiefs that they would be included on a District Mining Committee (DMC) and would be required to scrutinize documents submitted by the Minerals Commission of persons seeking mining concessions in their jurisdictions.
The Secretary of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM), Mr. Charles Cromwell Bissue, said the government had procured 200 drones to be used in fighting galamsey.
He noted that the machines would take live images of the districts in the country where galamsey activities were pronounced.
He disclosed that 150 persons were being trained at the George Grant University of Mines and Technology to handle the machines.
A lecturer at the University of Mines and Technology and Consultant to the IMCIM, Dr Naa Dedei Tagoe, who is a drone specialist, took the participants through the workings of a drone.
She said the machine could be used both day and night and could capture all galamsey activities in areas where it would be flown.
The Omanhene of Adankrangya, Nana Oppong Frenyam II, who represented the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, at the durbar said the Asantehene was much concerned about the menace being created as a result of galamsey and in view of that, had formed a 10-member committee in the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs to liaise with the IMCIM to fight illegal mining.