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The government has given a strong indication of its resolve to arrest and prosecute persons operating illegally in the small-scale mining sector so as to protect the country’s natural resources.
Four persons have been convicted by the Tarkwa Circuit Court for engaging in illegal gold operations and money laundering, Mr George Mireku Duker, the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources in charge of Mining, revealed.
It follows a press release by the office of the Attorney General that two Ghanaians and their Chinese counterparts were declared guilty by the court on 5 November 2021.
The two Chinese, namely Chen Hung and Chen Zhili, were handed a hefty fine of 120,000 penalty units (GHS1,440.000) each or in default serve 15 years 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 and 15 years, respectively.
Mr Duker said the conviction of the four is a demonstration of the government’s unshaken commitment to rid the mining sector of all forms of illegalities.
He warned all persons involved in illegal mining activities that the law enforcement agencies will not spare them once caught.
He said: “The conviction by the court and the severity of the penalties imposed are clear evidence of the government’s resolve to fight illegalities in the mining sector”.
“The 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 added.
Mr Duker also spelt out some of the initiatives embarked on by the government to make the mining sector more lucrative and generate more revenue.
The government, he stated, “has launched the ‘National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme’, which provides many business and livelihood options for interested individuals to venture into”.
He added that “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 per cent (90%) of the gold in ores being provided by the 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”.