Illegal mining activities have resumed in full force at the Prestea Huni Valley Municipality in the Western Region because the ‘galamseyers’ have adopted the use of a sophisticated technology that makes it difficult for them to be apprehended.
According to the Second-in-Command at the Western Forward Operation Base (FBO), Superintendent of Police Mr Robert Kobil, Chinese illegal miners interfere with their communication gadgets, making it difficult for the galamsayers to be tracked.
He said the galamsayers had also installed some devices in their excavators and heavy-duty equipment that made it impossible for the anti-galamsey team - ‘Operation Vanguard’ - to move the machines anytime they were seized.
The Operation Vanguard team was, therefore, handicapped in the circumstances since the Western FBO did not have a drone to track the illegal miners at difficult-to-reach areas.
This came to light when the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, visited the Western FBO yesterday as part of his tour of the Western Region.
Mr Kobil lamented that the Western FBO of Operation Vanguard had only two outboard motors to monitor illegal mining activities, adding that: "Drones were brought in to train some members of Operation Vanguard but have been sent back to Accra so we have no single one here. Even if there is one, none of the team members at the Western FBO has been trained to use it.
"We have also made a request for more outboard motors but we have not received them yet," he said.
Mr Asomah-Cheremeh urged the Operation Vanguard team to up its game to be able to clamp down on the illegal miners.
"People are complaining that the water bodies have become worse and it seems your activities are not productive.
I am of the view that these machines that have technology devices installed in them to make the work of the Operation Vanguard team difficult ought to be burnt," he stated.
The minister gave an assurance that the law was being reformed to tighten the knots to sanitise the mining sector.
"Very soon, the ban on small-scale mining will be lifted but illegal mining still remains illegal even after the lifting of the moratorium. So we are still saying no to illegal mining," he stressed.
For her part, the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, advised against maltreatment of illegal miners.
"I have received complaints that the Operation Vanguard team abuses people you arrest for illegal mining but I want you to stop that act because it is an abuse of human rights.
I will take up the issue with the Minister of Defence because collecting mobile phones and other belongings and maltreating the people will not help us sanitise the system," she said.