AFRICANGLOBE – A crack military team of about 60 men and officers, believed to have been selected from the Fourth Battalion Infantry in Kumasi, stormed the Obuasi Municipal area at the weekend to flush out pockets of illegal Chinese small scale miners still operating on the AngloGold Ashanti concession.
The exercise is the beginning of the second phase of the government’s initiative to flush out illegal Chinese mining operational bases in the municipality.
The municipality, with a population of 250,000, has assumed a notorious image as the ‘galamsey (illegal mining) headquarters’ of Ghana, due to the sheer numbers of illegal miners briskly operating in the municipality.
The Obuasi Township is believed to harbour as many as 10,000 illegal small scale miners, with majority of them from the northern regions of the country, but, in recent times, their ranks have been swollen by illegal Chinese miners, who are mining in river beds in the Obuasi Municipality and Amansie Central District.
Since March 18, this year, combined teams of police and the military, under the direction and command of National Security, have successfully reduced illegal mining cases in and around the Obuasi mine, but independent security sources say there are still some illegal miners scrounging on the concession.
Both local and Chinese illegal miners are returning in drips and drabs, allegedly with support from interested politicians, chiefs and the police. It is understood that this time the crack military team will not only arrest illegal miners for trial, but will seize accoutrements and pieces of equipment used for their galamsey operations.
Meanwhile, AngloGold Ashanti has debunked information making the rounds that its management had approved some part of the Obuasi concession for illegal mining.
According to information making rounds in the communities, AngloGold Ashanti has set aside and approved certain areas of the main concession for illegal miners, after a meeting between leaders of the Obuasi Small Scale Miners Association and Obuasi management.
John Owusu, Public Relations Manager, AngloGold Ashanti, in an interview with a Ghanaian newspaper, said “there is no truth in that story. AngloGold Ashanti has not set aside any part of the concession to any individual and group of illegal small scale miners. We don’t support illegality. We have met the leaders of the small scale miners before, but at no time did we approve such concession. Let the public and illegal miners also take note that the government taskforce is still patrolling on the mine to flush out illegal miners, and that for their own peace and safety, they should please take advantage of the new dawn, and abandon illegal mining for good.