Following a three-week ultimatum to illegal miners to end their operations, 545 excavators have been moved from illegal mining sites to open grounds in mining communities. Additionally, 1,148 out of 2,300 dredging equipment have also been moved from illegal mining sites to main grounds.
As of April 14, 2017, illegal miners had turned in a number of excavators in the following mining towns: Akim Oda, 20; Asankragua, 120; Assin Fosu, 20; Bibiani, 120; Dunkwa, 200; Konongo, 25, and Tarkwa, 40.
Speaking to journalists after touring some illegal mining sites to mark the end of the three-week ultimatum to illegal miners to stop operations, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Peter Amewu, said the number of the excavators which had moved from mining sites was gathered from district and intelligence officers on the ground.
He stated that most of the excavators evacuated from the mining sites were packed in nearby towns.
The dredging equipment was moved from the River Birim, River Ankobra, River Tano, River Mansi, River Bia, River Pra, River Offin, and the Black Volta.
He said intelligence gathered indicated more equipment would be moved by the end of the week.
Mr Amewu said illegal mining was a worrying development, and, therefore, there was the need to take decisive action to end it..
The minister said he was aware some of the withdrawn excavators would be moved back to mining sites and for that reason, there were concerted efforts to prevent the illegal miners from re-engaging in galamsey activities.
He said excavators would now be registered and installed with tracking devices to ensure they were used within legal limits.
Furthermore, Mr Amewu stated that more motorbikes would be procured, while more officers would be employed for monitoring purposes.
Some excavators found at site at the time of the visit
Illegal miners in parts of the Eastern Region yesterday abandoned their wares and took cover following a tip off that the Minister of Lands, Forestry and Natural Resources was in town.
Some moved their excavators from sites,, while others obviously had no time to do that.
Mr Amewu, some officials of the Minerals Commission and journalists observed that some of the excavators had been parked in homes.
Mats for sieving the gold dust, hose for sucking water from the river bodies, gallons full of gasoline for manning their generating sets, mattresses, spent and unspent cartridges and excavators were abandoned on the sites.
There was fresh mud on the excavators, indicating they were probably moved earlier in the day.
The activities of the illegal miners, popularly known as galamsey, have left destruction in their trails.
Some of the affected towns were Akenten, Kubreso and Pinaman in the Upper West Akyem District.
Mosiaso, a town in the Atiwa East District, has also not been spared by illegal miners.
Water bodies and lands in those towns have been destroyed.
A cocoa farmer at Mosiaso in the Atiwa District, Mr Kwabena Poku, emotionally lamented how his land had been destroyed by the illegal miners.
He said the river near his farm was polluted so it was impossible for it to be used to water his plants.
According to him, he travelled several kilometres to get clean water to water his plants.
Mr Poku complained about how his three-acre farmland had been destroyed by galamsey and said he wished he had the capacity to sue the illegal miners.
Mr Amewu was visibly upset with officials of the Minerals Commission for presiding over the galamsey scourge.
He was particularly shocked when officials of the Minerals Commission were unable to tell him which mining companies had licences to operate in some particular areas.
The minister also chastised a district mining inspector who had come to work drunk.
The minister led his entourage to pay a courtesy call on the Abontendomhene of Kyebi, Kyeretwie Boakye Dankwa.
Nana Dankwa expressed his support for the fight against galamsey but urged the government to find alternative jobs for the youth engaged in illegal mining activities.