Mr Paul Evans Aidoo, Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister, on Thursday appealed to the general public to report chiefs and landowners who released lands for illegal mining activities to the police for prosecution.
He said illegal mining also known as “galamsey” was rife in communities such as Susuanso, Yamfo, Techire, Adrobaa and Afrisipakrom in the Tano North District of the Brong Ahafo Region.
Mr Aidoo made the appeal in a speech read for him at day’s sensitisation workshop in Sunyani for some industrial mineral operators including sand, stone quarry and tipper truck operators in the region.
It was organised by the Kumasi office of the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission and was aimed at sensitising the over 120 participants on the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703).
Also in attendance were traditional rulers, assembly members, municipal and district chief executives and other stakeholders in the mining industry.
Mr Aidoo said illegal miners with their “get-rich-quick mentality” had thrown operational safety to the wind polluting river bodies, destroying farmlands and food crops and sometimes led to accidents and loss of lives.
He said the mining industry accounted for about seven percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) while mineral export accounts for 41 percent of total merchandised export.
The sector, he said, was one of the largest contributors to government revenue through the payment of mineral royalties, employee income taxes and corporate taxes.
Currently the mining sector, which employed 28,000 people in the large scale and mine support service, contributes about 17.5 percent of Ghana’s total corporate tax earnings, and 27 percent of government revenue, he said.
Mr Aidoo said despite all the benefits, Ghana lost billions of cedis annually to illegal mining activities and advised the general public to lend support in controlling the practice.
Mr Peter N. Hodgson, Head of Inspectorate at the Commission, said the division had been organising the sensitisation workshop quarterly but in Kumasi alone.
He said the Inspectorate, which had an oversight responsibility of the northern part of Ghana namely; Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions, had decided to extend the workshop to those areas.
Mr Hodgson said in 2011, three regional taskforces were formed in Central, Greater Accra and Ashanti regions, whilst two more were formed in Eastern and Western regions in the early part of 2012.
Their formation, he said, were necessitated by news, scenes and observation of rampant illegal mining activities throughout the country.
Mr Hodgson said the taskforce worked to check and help control illegal mining operations by arresting culprits for prosecution.
Messrs John Amoanyi and Joseph Frimpong, Senior Mine Inspectors at the Commission, took participants through Best Mining Practices and Acquiring a Mineral Right Licenses or Permit.