Some of the excavators being torched
Some of the excavators being torched

Forest rescue: 19 Illegal miners busted, excavators torched

In a significant blow to illegal mining operations in the Western Region, the Rapid Response Team (RRT) and staff of the Forest Services Division (FSD) have arrested 19 illegal miners in the Bonsa River Forest Reserve.

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The arrests mark a major victory in the fight against environmental degradation and illegal activities in the region's forest reserves.

Operations intensify

The arrests occurred on Friday, June 28, 2024, at Aboso North Range, following an earlier operation on June 12, 2024, where 11 suspects were apprehended in the same forest reserve.

The illegal miners, equipped with water-pumping machines, shovels and other handheld tools, had set up tents and were operating in the reserve day and night. The RRT and FSD staff have intensified their operations in recent weeks following a surge in illegal mining activities in the region.

The teams have been conducting regular patrols and intelligence-led operations to combat the illegal mining menace. The operations have been bolstered by intelligence gathering and community engagement, with local residents providing valuable information to aid the crackdown.

The 19 suspects arrested in the latest operation have been handed over to the Tarkwa Police Command for further investigation and prosecution.

This brings the total number of suspects arrested in the Region to 111, with 21 cases pending in court. The suspects face charges related to illegal mining, environmental degradation and trespassing.

Apamprama operation

In a separate operation, two excavators and a motorbike were immobilised in the Apamprama Forest Reserve, near Kobro, by FSD staff and RRT members. While no arrests were made, the Commission staff remain committed to combating illegal mining through increased night patrols and intelligence-led operations.

Some of the illegal miners arrested on site

Some of the illegal miners arrested on site

The Forestry Commission has issued a stern warning to illegal operators to refrain from entering the Apamprama Forest Reserve and other reserves to prevent further environmental destruction. The Commission has also appealed to the judiciary in the region to expedite action on all forest offence cases.

Protecting Forests

The Forestry Commission staff in the Bekwai Forest District remain committed to combating the illegal mining menace to safeguard the forest and wildlife resources. The Commission has pledged to continue working with stakeholders, including local communities, to protect the region's forests and ensure sustainable forest management.

Environmental impact

The illegal mining activities have had a devastating impact on the environment, with widespread deforestation, water pollution and soil degradation reported in the affected areas.

The Forestry Commission has expressed concern over the long-term effects of illegal mining on the region's ecosystem and biodiversity. The operations have received widespread support from local communities who have been affected by the environmental degradation and social impact of illegal mining. The communities have praised the Forestry Commission and RRT for their efforts in combating illegal mining and protecting the region's forests.

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