Mr. Benito Owusu-Bio, the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources in charge of lands and forestry, has issued a strong warning to illegal miners to keep off forest reserves and has emphasized that they will be expelled and punished regardless of who they are.
“No matter who you are, we don’t care; if you enter the forest reserves, we will drive you out and sanction you as well,” he declared.
“But that doesn’t mean that anyone can just jump into the forest to mine; and if we find you like that, we will deal with you,” he said, citing the unusual cases of Chirano mines and Newmont, who have been awarded legal operating licenses.
The deputy minister made this statement while on a working visit to the Tano Nimiri forest reserve to confirm the accuracy of reports that the Akonta Mining Company was still operating there on September 30, 2022, despite the minister of lands and natural resources’ order to the forestry commission to stop the company’s illegal mining operations.
While Akonta Mining Limited has a mining lease to conduct mining operations in a few Somreboi locations outside of the Tano Nimiri Forest Reserve, the firm has no mineral rights to conduct mining activities there.
After surveying the entire forest from above, Mr. Owusu-Bio and his crew discovered three locations with some equipment but no activities underway.
He ordered the forestry officers to burn and decommission the entire property right now.
A different group of illegal miners were also found mining around the river’s banks and margins, as well as some in the forest, by the crew.
The aerial view’s map indicated that 98% of the miners were working outside the prohibited areas, which consisted of the banks and edges, and the remaining 2% were inside the forest reserves themselves.
But it was impossible to tell whose mine they were employed with.
Mr. Owusu-Bio spoke on the subject of the new group of illegal miners discovered working on the river, saying: “These are not small-scale miners, these are obviously people who are just burnt on destroying our forests, water bodies, and the entire environment but I cannot tell whether that is Akonta or any other company because this is not organized, so, I can say it’s purely illegal mining that is going on there.”
He promised the media that the ministry will send out the Operations Halt II team immediately to confront the illegal miners and put an end to their operations.
“Given what we’ve seen here, I’ll submit it to the minister, and we’ll immediately see how we can plan to halt operations using the speed boats we just bought to pursue them.”
He also mentioned that the number of forest guards who patrol the 300 square kilometer forest with assistance from the military will soon be increased in collaboration with the Forestry Commission and Samartex, a timber company in the enclave.