Some 40 excavators that were allegedly being used for illegal mining activities popularly known as Galamsey have been burnt by personnel of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF).
The Minister of Defense, Dominic Nitiwul, made this known in an address to the media in Accra on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. He was giving an update on phase three of Operation Halt II.
He said during the third phase of the operation, River Offin, River Oda and River Birim, were covered.
In a day, the Minister noted that the military were pulling out about 700 excavators from the forests.
Most of the people engaged in the illegal mining activities are not ordinary Ghanaians but rather rich men sitting in Accra and London, according to him.
He revealed that some excavators were being hired for about Ghc 6,000 or Ghc 7,000 each.
He said the 40 excavators were all working within the Birim River.
According to him, about 228 Chanfangs, 87 water pumping machines, 76 wooden structures; one container; seven generators; motorbikes, hunter guns, were burnt.
In the Eastern Region, he noted that the miners were carrying out illegality with “impunity.”
He said illegal miners in the Eastern Region refused to take out their equipment from sites despite hearing about the operations of the military.
He stated that River Birim has been virtually destroyed.
The Minister added that aerial inspections revealed that there are serious destructions to river bodies and environment in the mining communities.
Some of the illegal miners , he noted, have resorted to mining in the night.
“Some big companies are doing the wrong thing,” he added.
The impact of Operation Halt II has been huge, he noted.
The Minister revealed that one Chinese national was arrested for alleged illegal mining activities during the course of the four-day operation.
Destruction of River Birim
He bemoaned that illegal miners popularly known as galamseyers have virtually killed off the tributaries of the Birim river.
According to him, they have diverted the river into ponds that they have created to wash their gold, leaving the river bed dried.
The Minister made this known at a press conference held at the Information Ministry in Accra on Wednesday, May 19, 2021.
He noted that a responsible mining company will sink boreholes.
He stated that mining companies should be able to construct boreholes for their communities and themselves.
Responding to concerns on the burning of Galamsey excavators, he said “Members of the Ghana Armed Forces don’t enjoy seeing equipment being destroyed.”
Today, according to him, people who are living by water bodies are compelled to buy water to drink or wash their things.
If government doesn’t take proactive steps, the entire southern belt of Ghana will loose its water in the next three to five years because people have realized the craze for money is more important than human lives.