In order to avert periodic trapping of illegal miners in the Gbane community of the Upper East Region, Lands and Natural resources Minister, Mr. John Peter Amewu has directed the regional and the regional police commander to close down three of such illegal mining pits.
During his working visit to the region on Wednesday August 9, the minister said the decision to close down the pits was in the interest of the illegal miners who have used those pits as entry points to invade the concessions of Shaanxi Mining Company operating in the area.
It would be recalled that the government in May this year temporarily suspended the operations of Shaanxi Mining (Ghana) Company following the death of some illegal miners whose leadership blamed the company for intentionally blasting their concessions with a poisonous gas leading to the death of the illegal miners. This claim was sharply refuted by the company.
As a result of the suspension, 500 permanent workers of the company were asked to go home until further notice, while 52 workers were currently ensuring care and maintenance of the company’s mining shafts.
Addressing management of the company during his visit, Mr. Amewu explained the company was not suspended because it is a Chinese company but that; they wanted to ensure compliance of all mining regulations so as prevent more people from perishing.
“This company has been put on suspension, the suspension is not because you are foreigners, the suspension was not because we don’t like the company, Ghana is not against Chinese doing business in Ghana. Irrespective of where you’re coming from, you might be from China, Burkina Faso or Togo, so long as you refuse to abide by the rules and regulations that mandate you to undertake mining activities, this government will always be against you. We want things to be done in a more sustainable manner. The Chinese have their rules of engagement; Ghana has its rules of engagement. Both countries have their constitution and laws and we are trying to abide by our rules and regulations and I expect that you do same to help us,” he stated.
Since its suspension, some illegal miners were allegedly taking advantage to encroach on the concessions of the company through their illegal pits. Their actions were reported to the minister during his visit and he immediately directed the Regional Minister, Mr. Rockson Ayine Bukari and Police Commander, DCOP Vincent Redeemer Dedjoe to ensure the immediate closure of the three pits.
“I have listened to your case carefully and I’m directing that the Regional Minister in collaboration with the regional commander of police take immediate steps to make sure that they block those illegal pits that have been used to invade these mines. It is in the interest of these same individuals who use these illegal traps to invade the mines because by doing so, some of the mines we understand collapse and trap people”. The minister stated.
Mr. Amewu assured management of the company it would not be too long they would be given the green light to resume operations.
Mr. Maxwell Wooma, Public Relations Officer of Shaanxi Mining (Ghana) Company, lamented how constant blasting of the illegal pits by the ‘galamsyers’ had weaken the company’s underground support pillars all for the purposes of stealing ores belonging to the company.
He also recalled how the illegal miners hammered the mining engineer underground of the company when he was part of a team of engineers undertaking maintenance works on August 6, 2017. He was later rescued and taken to the hospital where he was treated. Again on following day, four of the company’s security men were kidnapped by the same illegal miners who later took them their homes, brutalized them before releasing them.
Mr. Wooma, therefore believed the closure of the pits which he described as notorious, would bring relief to the company.