The Manso-Nkwanta Traditional Council has raised concern about the upsurge of illegal gold mining in the area, which it said, was fuelling the destruction of large swathes of the area’s vegetation.
Nana Bi-Kusi Appiah, the Omanhene, said the activities of the miners in the Amansie West District had become a major source of discomfort and needed to be tackled with seriousness and urgency.
He was speaking at a meeting of the Council to discuss effective ways of dealing with the problem.
Present at the forum were officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, Minerals Commission, security services, licensed gold mining companies and heads of department of the district assembly.
Nana Bi-Kusi Appiah said apart from the environmental degradation, there was also the issue of insecurity as many people continue to perish in mining accidents.
Since the illegal miners operate in complete disregard for safety rules and regulations, they sometimes get trapped in collapsed mine pits.
The Omanhene described as unacceptable the behaviour of small-scale miners, who left deep pits and trenches uncovered and made no efforts to reclaim destroyed lands.
Mr Ernest Okyere of the Minerals Commission said it was unlawful for any one to mine for gold without license and appealed to the chiefs, district assembly and the law enforcement agencies to bring offenders to justice.
The Member of Parliament, Mrs Grace Addo, expressed satisfaction that school children were abandoning classes for illegal mining business.
“This certainly cannot be allowed unchecked. We need to act firmly and with a common sense of purpose to restore some level of sanity,” she said.
The District Co-ordinating Director, Mr Daniel Nkrumah, said the District Security Committee had put in place the necessary measures to deal decisively with the menace.
Mr Samuel Kena, District Education Director, said illegal mining was affecting academic performance in the area, saying only 51 per cent of candidates of the 2010 Basic Education Certificate Examination passed the exams.
This, he, said was a significant drop from 2009, which recorded 75 per cent.