Nine district mine officers of the Minerals Commission have been asked to proceed on indefinite leave with immediate effect.
The dismissal followed their purported failure to ensure effective monitoring and compliance with the mining rules and regulations which has led to illegal mining commonly called ‘galamsey.’
Lands and Natural Resources Minister, John Peter Amewu, issued the directive to the officers who were in-charge of the nine mining zones in the country when he led a team to Tumatu in the Nzema East Municipality of the Western Region on Sunday.
The tour to galamsey-plagued areas followed the expiration of an ultimatum the minister gave to all illegal miners to vacate mining sites with their equipment.
Illegal mining has caused serious destruction to the nation as a result of pollution and destruction of some water bodies, especially in the Western and the Eastern Regions.
The illegal activities of the miners are reported to have led to the shutdown of water treatment plants, and have also caused the depletion of the vegetation in the catchment areas.
According to the minister, “Some of these officers have been working for the commission for the past eight or 10 years without knowing what is happening around them. Others we met were drunk whilst on the job and all that.”
The names of the affected officers, Mr. Amewu stated, would be made public, as he intensifies his fight against the galamsey menace.
He indicated that the dismissed officers would soon be replaced with people who are eager and ready to ensure strict compliance of the mining regulations, saying, “There are processes to engage young ones who have completed school and are looking for jobs to do. They should come and help us to sanitize the system. The supervisory work that they had to do to bring sanity to the field has not been done.”
Mr. Amewu reiterated government’s determination to streamline mining operations in the country to make for easy and proper monitoring.
In a related development, the minister has instructed the Okobeng Mining Company in the Western Region to stop operations immediately.
The order was based on the claim that the mining firm’s concession is less than 100 meters away from the Ankobra River in the Nzema East Municipality of the region.
He further asked the company to report to his ministry to answer query regarding its operations and documentation.
The minister issued the order when he toured the mining company’s site yesterday.
Mr Amewu was shocked about the continuous operations of the firm, albeit government had directed it to stop, quizzing, “The prospecting licence was given to the company three months ago when I was substantive minister, but how come I do not know about it, when I have to sign before this licence is given?”
In a quick response, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Minerals Commission, Tony Aubyn, who was with the team, was of the view that the licence might have been issued by the previous minister.
At the site, the police seized a pump action gun with ammunition from ex-service men who were manning the place.
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