Mr. Samuel A. Jinapor, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources

Government has acquired five speed boats to patrol river bodies as part of the fight against illegal mining popularly known in Ghanaian parlance as galamsey.

The fully-fitted 6.5m Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boats will be deployed on the Rivers Ankobrah, Prah, Birim and the Black Volta, and will operate all day and night to rid these water bodies of any form of mining.

Minister for Lands and Natural Resources Mr. Samuel A. Jinapor yesterday disclosed these day at commissioning of the patrol boats at Beposo.

The fight against illegal mining, he said, must be a national concern and appealed to every Ghanaian living in communities along the various river bodies to support the effort by reporting those involved in galamsey.

He pointed out that through such cooperation and vigilance, the boats supporting Operation Halt II, Ghana will find lasting solution to the pollution of water bodies.

According to him, the small-scale mining industry contributes almost 40% to the nation’s gold output and yet it has become associated with environmental degradation and water pollution.

“President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo last year called for a dispassionate, non-partisan and broad-based National Dialogue on small scale mining. This led to the National Dialogue, where we adopted a fifteen-point resolution, aimed at tackling the menace head-on, and two Regional Dialogues in the Forest and Savannah Zones.”

“Since then, we have declared water bodies as Red Zones for Mining, and suspended all reconnaissance, prospecting and/or exploration activities in Forest Reserves. We have placed a ban on the manufacture, fabrication, and/or use of the floating device popularly known as Changfan, one of the main equipment used for the pollution of our water bodies.”

“We rolled out Operation Halt II, to enforce these measures, with an additional mandate to demobilise and decommission all equipment used for illegal mining in Red Zones.”

According to the Minister, to promote sustainable small scale mining, Community Mining Scheme was revamped while an operational manual was developed to set standards for their operation.

34 of these schemes, he said, have been commissioned since last year with an additional 11 ready to be commissioned.

He disclosed that to provide alternative sources of livelihood for those affected by the measures being taken to clamp down on illegal mining, Government has introduced a National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme (NAELP), as a substitute to illegal mining.

“The Programme, which includes reclamation, afforestation and reforestation, already provides direct employment for some 302 people and indirect employment to over 80,000 people.”

The government, he said, marked another mile stone in the fight against illegal mining last year with the commissioning of 100 mercury-free gold processing equipment called Gold Katcha.

The Gold Katcha, he said, provides an alternative means of extracting the gold without polluting water bodies and the natural environment. 

He averred that some recalcitrant nation-wreckers that seek only their selfish interest at the expense of the national interest, however, connive with others both locals and foreigners and continue to pollute rivers.

Some, he said, have even resorted to mining in the night with armed guards, when the security agencies have finished their operation and added that all the sixteen Regional Ministers and their Regional Security Councils have been tasked to take these matters up and deal with them upfront.

The Akufo-Addo government, he said, is not against small scale mining but is against any form of mining that pays no regard to the environment contrary to law and the established protocols, and that threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions of our citizens.

The government, he warned, will not hesitate in cracking the whip on those who engage in such illegalities.

Mr. Jinapor assured that President Akufo-Addo remains committed to making Ghana the mining hub of Africa and will therefore enforce order for viable, sustainable and environmentally-sound small scale mining industry.