Illegal Mining: 16 Excavators Seized In Western Region

The war against illegal mining has been given a boost with the immediate suspension of all reconnaissance and prospecting in forest reserves.

The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, which issued the directive, said all persons and companies engaged in those activities, with or without legal authorisation, should suspend them until further notice.

It has also directed the Minerals Commission not to, with immediate effect, accept, process and recommend the granting, including renewal and extension, of reconnaissance and prospecting licences in forest reserves.

The directive, signed by the sector Minister,Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor Thursday [April 22, 2021, declared: “For the avoidance of doubt, except as directed by the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources in writing, all activities and operations in respect of any reconnaissance and/or prospecting licences in forest reserves are hereby suspended until further notice.”

Cease operations

To enforce the directive, the minister gave all persons and companies engaged in reconnaissance and prospecting in forest reserves a seven-day ultimatum, from the date of the publication of the notice, to cease their operations and evacuate their equipment accordingly.

“The minister has served notice on and requested the various regional security councils to strictly enforce these directives,” it urged.

The directive is part of actions being taken to safeguard and ensure the sustainable management and utilisation of the nation’s natural resources.

“The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has the mandate to ensure the sustainable management and utilisation of the nation’s lands, forests and wildlife resources, as well as the efficient management of the mineral resources for socio-economic growth and development.

“It has taken note of the unfortunate and unlawful practice of some persons and/or companies acquiring licences, under the pretext of undertaking reconnaissance and/or prospecting in forest reserves, and yet proceed to engage in illegal mining in such forest reserves, with its obvious adverse consequences on the environment,” it said.

Western Region onslaught

In compliance with the directive, the Western Regional Coordinating Council has renewed the onslaught on illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey, in the Western Region, reports Dotsey Koblah Aklorbortu.

The exercise is being undertaken by the Western Regional Security Council (REGSEC), in collaboration with district and municipal security councils and backed by the Operation Vanguard Taskforce.

In unannounced operations led by the Western Regional Minister,Mr Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, Thursday, 16 excavators, barrels of diesel and other mining equipment accessories were seized in the Amenfi West, Tarkwa Nsuaem, Prestea Huni-Valley and Ellembelle districts.

An army of illegal operators who were busily operating bolted as the task force approached.

However, five of the operators were arrested and transferred to the Regional Police Command.

The team destroyed wooden structures mounted in the forest and on the banks of the Tano River and other tributaries.

Some of the excavators,which were hidden in the heart of the Samreboi Forest, were recovered.


Amazed at the level of destruction, diversion and pollution of rivers, the regional minister warned traditional rulers, opinion leaders and financiers of the illegal activities that the government would not stand aloof for the devastation to continue.

Mr Darko-Mensah said the pollution of the Tano and the Pra rivers was unacceptable, hence the need to move in now to stop the illegalities.

“These people divertthe river,destroy the vegetative cover,mine in the river,forest and banks and pump their waste water, with all the chemicals, back into the river.

This is unacceptable,” he said.

Safe mining

Mr Darko-Mensah said the government’s effort to halt the wanton destruction of the environment would continue to ensure that mining activities were carried out in a safe manner.

The exercise, he said, would continue in all mining districts, and that all chief executives and their teams had the backing of the REGSEC and the RCC to rid the country’s water bodies of those illegal activities.

“We do not want our neighbouring countries to laugh at us that Ghana,which is strategically placed along the coast, with rich forest reserves and countless water bodies, has to import water due to these illegal activities — that will not happen; we will stop them,” he said.

The impunity

The minister expressed worry over the fact that traditional rulers, who are the custodians of the land, were in the communities while those illegal activities went on with impunity.

He said the time had come for all — “traditional rulers and community leaders — to join the fight to protect the environment and save our water bodies,and the government will not watch unconcerned”.

He urged chiefs and people in the communities to support the fight by reporting those activities, saying: “The yellow equipment (excavators) are hauled through your communities; you see them every day, the thunderous sounds of the excavators drum throughout the night; therefore, you members of the communities have the prime duty to play the vanguard role.

“The time has come for our noble chiefs and those in the cabinet of traditional council to see themselves as partners and help the government protect our land.”

Winning the fight

The Municipal Chief Executive for Amenfi West, Mr George Agyiri, said the Municipal Security Council was more than ready to ensure that the country won the fight against the illegal activities.

He said the council took the immediate step to educate communities close to the forest areas to report those activities.

The District Chief Executive for Ellembelle, Mr Kwasi Bonzoh, pledged the assembly’s support for the fight against the illegal activities,saying: “The fight is in the interest ofthe environment,the community and the country as a whole.”

He said given the level of devastation caused by those illegal activities,“we are left with no option but to move in and support the REGSEC to ensure that the right thing is done”.


Illegal mining activities in the Western Region have assumed an alarming proportion, even after the introduction of the community mining programme (CMP) and thousands trained at the University of Mines and Technology in government’s quest to ensure safe mining to protect the environment.

Even though the CMP is currently ongoing in some mining districts, it has not stopped illegal mining activities, as many have gone back to the communities and are mining in forest reserves and water bodies.