A joint police, military and immigration operation tasked to flush out miscreants engaged in illegal mining in river bodies and on land, has led to the arrest of 27 Chinese nationals who were mining for gold in the Ankobra River in the Western Region.
The suspects are aged between thirty and forty years.
The operation was carried out upon the advice of the Western regional and National Security Councils following complaints from the Water Commission that water bodies in mining areas were gradually losing their essence due to excessive pollution through illegal mining.
In this latest exercise on Thursday dawn, the 27 Chinese nationals were spotted mining in three communities where the River Ankobra lies.
Five were arrested at Kutukrom together with their tools, four at Sika Ne Asem, whilst eighteen were picked up at Tumantu, with their tools, Chinese passports, guns and cartridges.
At a news conference to parade the suspects, the Western Regional Police Commander DCOP Ransford Ninson noted that Chinese nationals are mainly to blame for the polluted water bodies in mining areas.
He said this time round; such cases will be dealt with at the High Court.
“Our water bodies are being destroyed by these galamsey operators. And purposely, we have observed that it is the Chinese who have brought machines and are in the Ankobra and Pra rivers excavating and processing the alluvial gold in the rivers. So the Water Commission brought this to our attention. We are sending them to court for them to be remanded then we will continue with the investigations. We are taking them to the High Court because we have now found out that such cases are adjudicated at the High Court and not Magistrate or Circuit Courts” he noted.
DCOP Ransford Ninson cautioned foreign investors not to engage in such illegalities since they will not be spared when apprehended. He advised any investor who wants to go into mining to contact the appropriate Ministries and agencies and not chiefs, explaining that every mineral anywhere in Ghana belongs to the State.
“We are appealing to all investors in the country to stop mining in the water bodies because our laws do not allow people to mine 200 metres from water bodies. And as we have been saying, mining companies should obtain a license from the Minerals Commission and the Environment Protect Agency (EPA) before starting operations in any area in the country”.
This is not the first time Chinese nationals have been arrested for engaging in such activities.