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‘Galamsey’ operators back in Western Region

_DSC1020An army of illegal gold mining operators, including Chinese and other nationals have regrouped in the Western Region, wreaking havoc on river bodies and clearing vegetation, less than two years after Operation Halt II, a national campaign to clamp down on illegal mining activities, was launched.

They have moved earth-moving machines into rivers and the deep parts of forests, operating day and night.

They claim they are operating with support from some prominent traditional rulers and politically connected persons who are owners of the equipment.

“Some of the chiefs provide the land and financial backing in partnership with the Chinese, as well as other financiers and they secure our release when arrested,” one of them, who does not want to be named, alleged.

Locations

Communities where the illegal miners have converged for their activities include Afransie, Tarkwa, Akwadei, Cape Three Points, Nsuaem Top, Prestea and other deep forest places in the Wassa area.

Currently, more than 300 illegal miners are prospecting for gold on the Ankobra River to the north of Nzema East.

Their activities are seriously polluting the river due to the high discharge of mercury, diesel and other lubricants into the water, which is the only source of water for communities along the banks of the river.

At the moment, the natural blue colour of the river has changed to brown.

Residents say they cannot complain, alleging that some of their rulers, including some paramount chiefs, lead the miners to the rivers and the land to operate.

“We have no boreholes and the river is our only source of water and fish but you can see it yourself, we cannot talk, ” another person said.
At Afransie, a Chinese was chanced upon digging deep into the earth, claiming he was undertaking the venture in partnership with a chief of the area.

The journey to where the illegal miners operate at Afransie, Nsuaem Top, Akwadei among others is difficult, particularly as there are no roads leading to those areas.

On the journey to Afransie in Nzema East for instance, one has to travel through a community known as Akango to Duale, join a canoe to cross the Ankobra River and then trek a footpath to the location.

Pollution

The illegal miners use mercury as the main amalgam for the extraction of gold, without the use of equipment known as “retort” to retain the escaping mercury in the water.

Some of the miners who spoke to the Daily Graphic in Ewe, Ga and French said they were not from the Western Region.

RCC concerned

When contacted, the Western Regional Minister, Mr Paul Evans Aidoo, confirmed that the Chinese and other nationals were back in the illegal business.

He said the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) would do all in its power to save the situation, irrespective of who was behind those activities.

– Source  : http://graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/47728-galamsey-operators-back-in-wr.html#sthash.kcNTO5SS.dpuf

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Reporting Oil and Gas project was launched on 4th June 2009atTakoradi, Western Region, Ghana by Penplusbytes (PPB – www.penplusbytes.org) with the vision of providing a one stop online information and knowledge about Ghana’s oil and gas sector
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