Alarmed by the widespread illegal use of explosives in the country’s mining communities, the government is to commence investigation into the mode of acquisition and use of explosives by illegal miners.
This was disclosed by the outgoing Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Eric Opoku, during his working visit to Obuasi on Tuesday, and warned individuals and companies behind the sale and distribution of explosives to illegal miners to stop their nefarious activities before or face the full rigours of the law.
The minister expressed shock at the increasing activities of illegal miners in the Obuasi municipality, where galamsey operators, with the assistance of gold dealers, are using powerful explosives to mine on surface and underground mines in Obuasi.
“We want to get to the bottom of where the illegal miners have been getting their explosives and those found to be acting illegally will be dealt with according to the laws of the country”, he warned
He said the government was sending a strong signal to everyone that it will enforce the law on illegal mining, and advised them to legalise their operations.
The minister further gave the assurance that government will continue to deploy more military/police personnel to beef up security on the mine until such a time that illegal mining was completely done away with.
Mr Opoku reassured the AngloGold Ashanti management of government’s support and assistance to ensure safe and secure operations at the mine
For his part, Mr. Fred Attakumah – Acting Managing Director of Obuasi Mine commended the government, especially the president for deploying the anti-illegal mining taskforce to the Obuasi Municipality and urged the regional minister and other stakeholders to expand and sustain the security operation.
Mr. Attakumah informed the minister that the Obuasi mine is facing several challenges which have necessitated a change of strategy to ensure that the 117-year old mine is transformed into a modern operation to recapture its former glory as the leading mine in the country. He said management has started discussions with government and other stakeholders on the new plan and assured him that at the appropriate time, the relevant details will be made known to all concerned.
On the specific issue of illegal mining activities, Mr. Attakumah expressed grave concern about recent escalations observed on the mine where firearms and explosives were now being used by illegal miners against the mine’s employees, and called for immediate intervention by government, given its far reaching security implications.