Written By: Duke Nii Amartey Tagoe
A combined team of some unknown soldiers and policemen numbering 400 have raided a mining community at Wiawso and Gwira Tumentu in the Western Region and committed some despicable atrocities.
The brutalities took place on Thursday 17th December 2015 when Nana Amponsah, owner and manager of Okobeng Mining Company Limited and who claims to have the full backing of the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, attempted to drive out the small scale miners from a prospecting licensed concession belonging to West Star Mining Company Limited.
West Star Mining Company Limited had entered into an agreement with the miners and granted them a small scale gold concession under some terms and conditions.
Whilst many of the licensed small scale miners were beaten, large quantities of gold and money was extorted and fuel reserves running into millions of Ghana cedis were impounded and taken away.
According to statistics provided by the Prestea/Huni-Valley Branch of the Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners, “the operations of the licensed small scale miners on the concession have reduced unemployment rate in Prestea and its environs drastically”.
Two of the affected miners, Mustapha Nuhu and Isaac Thompson, are licensed with the Ghana Minerals Commission and have consistently filed their Small Scale Mining License Monthly Returns Form to the commission.
The form legitimizes the operations of the small scale miner by providing information to the Minerals Commission about the quantity of gold produced in a month, the type of equipment used in operation, the reclamation method adopted by the miner and the number of labourers employed.
In what appears to confirm the criminality of this raid the Municipal Chief Executive of the Nzema East Municipal Assembly, the District Chief Executive of the Nzema East Municipal Assembly, the District Chief Executive of the Prestea Huni Valley District and the Western Regional Police Commander say they are unaware and did not authorize the raid.
In a petition to the Chief of Staff at the Presidency, the National Security Coordinator and the Inspector General of Police, the traumatized miners are calling for a thorough investigation into what they describe as a “cruel act”.
The licensed small scale miners say they are operating legally with the full permission of the Ghana Minerals Commission and are therefore calling on the authorities of the state to ensure that the perpetrators of this dastardly act are made to compensate them.
Meanwhile, a copy of a report on reconnaissance conducted by the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Ghana Armed signed by Lieutenant Colonel J.K Kumado in the possession of this reporter has identified a“Nana Amponsah as one of three individuals spear heading illegal mining activities in the area”.
The report recommends that “a team of Military and Policemen be authorized to conduct cordon and search operations to arrest the indicted persons and clear all illegal mining activities” from the area.