The Government has given strong indication of its resolve to arrest and prosecute persons operating illegally in the small-scale mining sector to protect the Country’s natural resources.
Four persons have been convicted by Tarkwa Circuit Court for engaging in illegal gold operations and money laundering,Hon. George Mireku Duker, the Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources in charge of Mining has announced.
The revelation by the Hon. George Mireku Duker follows a press release by the Office of the Attorney-General which details that two Ghanaians and their Chinese counterparts were declared guilty by the court on November 5, 2021.
The two Chinese namely Chen Hung and Chen Zhili were handed a hefty fine of 120,000 penalty units (Ghs 1,440.000) each or in default serve 15years each in prison.
The Ghanaians on the other hand received fines of 100,000 and 120,000 penalty units (Ghs 1,200,000 & Ghs 1,440,000) respectively, or in default serve prison terms of 10 years and 15 years, respectively.
Hon. George Mireku Duker averred that the conviction of the four is a demonstration of government’s unshaken commitment to ridding the mining sector of all forms of illegalities.
He leveraged on the opportunity to issue a stern warning to all persons involved in illegal mining activities that the law enforcement agencies will deal with them.
“The conviction by the court and the severity of the penalties imposed are clear evidence of Government’s resolve to fight illegalities in the mining sector.
“Government in 2019 decided that the sanctions applicable to illegal mining were not severe enough to provide the warranted deterrence and hence passed Act 995 to amend and make the sanctions stiffer. It is, therefore, Act 995 which imposes the penalties that have been applied by the court and which is expected to deter those who will be tempted to undertake illegal activities associated with mining.
“This is to sound a word of caution to persons involved in illegal mining activities, especially in water bodies and forest reserves. Those involved in gold smuggling and other related activities should also take note,” he said.
Hon. Mireku Duker also spelt out some of the initiatives embarked on by government to make the mining sector more lucrative and generate more revenue.
“Government has launched the “National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme”, which provides many business and livelihood options for interested individuals to venture into.
This programme features the Community Mining Scheme, which provides a credible, responsible and sustainable alternative to the “galamsey” menace. The scheme has been structured to receive technical support from geoscientists to operate properly. Also, the processing equipment by Commodity Monitor, commonly known as “Gold Catcher”, which is a mercury- free processing plant and is able to recover over ninety percent (90%) of the gold in ores being provided by Government through Minerals Commission to the Scheme.
“These interventions are expected to, if not deter, then attract people away from illegalities. Let me assure you that as a Ministry, we will not relent in our efforts at dealing with all forms of illegalities in the mining sector and also ensuring that mining is done in a more sustainable manner,” he said.