A graduation parade has been held in Accra for the first batch of 220 mining guards trained to police mining activities across the country, with a caution to them not to yield to monetary inducements in the discharge of their duties.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, who gave the caution, asked them to rather be diligent in supporting national efforts to weed out illegal mining and also see the responsibility placed on them as a call to defend the country.
The guards received training in surveillance, ethics of security services, assets management, officers survival skills, introduction to minerals and mining laws, as well as appropriate ways of effecting arrests.
They will be field-based and backed by advanced technology, including the use of drones and “Galamstop,” a monitoring system for illegal mining.
Present at the ceremony were the Deputy Ministers of Land and Natural Resources in charge of Mining and Forestry, Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyasi and Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, respectively.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Minerals Commission, Mr Kwaku Addae Antwi-Bosiako, the Deputy CEO in charge of support services, Mr Joseph Kwaku Nayan, and some police chiefs were also present.
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Mr Asomah-Cheremeh explained that the mining guards who were the first of a total of 540 to be deployed, were to support Operation Vanguard by monitoring mining activities around water bodies to help sanitise the small-scale mining sector.
He said they would also serve as focal persons on mining of all forms, including small-scale gold mining, sand winning, quarrying and other industrial mineral operations in satellite areas set up by the Minerals Commission.
“The temptations of bribes, greed for money and many more inducements are likely to sway you off the purpose for which you are being sent to serve the country. But, I urge you to put on the armour of patriotism, selflessness and integrity in dispensing your duties so that when the story of the fight against illegal mining is told one day, your names will be mentioned,” he told the guards.
Mr Asomah-Cheremeh stressed that the government’s focus was to ensure that the steps being taken to sanitise the small-scale mining sector were sustained.
He said more efforts were being made to streamline the small-scale mining sector by adequately resourcing regulatory and allied institutions to deliver on their mandate, stressing that all laws on mining would be strictly enforced to ensure that even after the lifting of the ban on small-scale mining, all illegal mining activities would be checked.
“If we are able to ensure that the mineral and mining laws are adhered to, through strict enforcement and the appropriate application of sanctions, we will be able to solve the problem of illegal mining,” he said.
The government and other stakeholders began an endeavour to clamp down on the activities of illegal miners at the beginning of 2017.
A ban was placed on all forms of small-scale mining in a bid to sanitise the mining sector.
Among other measures to sustain the fight, the government set up an inter-ministerial committee against illegal mining, deployed Operation Vanguard to mining hot spots and also developed the multi-sectoral mining integrated programme (MMIP) to sanitise the mining sector.
Mining Guard (MG) Ebenezer Adu Gyamfi was adjudged the Overall Best Recruit at the event.
Other awardees were MG Ebenezer K. Yawson, MG Felix Geyem, MG Osei Assibey and MG Adjei Richard, who emerged as the best in physical training, drills, conduct and recipient of Special Award respectively.