The suspects were arrested in a joint police/military swoop at Kyebi and charged with mining without licence before the Koforidua High Court.
Their equipment, including six excavators and 16 pumping machines which they used to dig deep pits on the football park and a site 200 metres away from the boys’ dormitory of the school, were also confiscated.
They are Wilberforce Arthur, 25, Kwesi Nyarko, 24, Sampson Ocansey, 16, Bismark Kerd, 21, Kofi Ankomah 32, Samuel Koffie, 21, Samuel Senyo, 24, Nana Kwamina Nyarko Eshun, 56, Mohammed Muntari, 20, and Joseph Adama, 23.
The rest are Eugene Apietu Boateng, 20, Ernest Owusu, 36, Richard Anim, 25, Michael Asante, 21, and Inusah Amadu, 21.
Briefing the press at Koforidua, the Eastern Regional Police Commander, DCOP Ransford Ninson, said the illegal miners had succeeded in extending their operations to the Abuakwa State SHS football field and a site 200 metres from the boys’ dormitory, endangering the lives of students in the school.
He said galamsey operations in the Eastern Region, especially at Kyebi, Akwatia and along the Birim River and its environs, were on the increase, degrading the areas.
He added that the Birim river, the main source of drinking water for inhabitants in its catchment area, was at risk as it was being heavily polluted with poisonous chemicals such as cyanide and mercury, which are used by the illegal miners to extract minerals from the river.
DCOP Ninson said in a bid to stop galamsey operations, the Regional Security Committee (REGSEC) had on previous occasions directed the security agencies to arrest illegal miners who were arraigned at Koforidua and that some of the cases were still pending.
He appealed to persons interested in engaging in small scale mining to apply to the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to acquire licences to enable them to engage in legal mining.
Source: Daily Graphic