Illegal miners invade mines at Konongo
General News of Saturday, 29 April 2017
During a visit to the site by the Daily Graphic last Wednesday, it was revealed that more than 5,000 illegal miners were operating in the mines, particularly at Mpamprome, Nassara, Fiadzagbe, Heat and Empan Mu.
Although no excavators were spotted in many of the eight mining locations visited, some of the miners were seen working in their mining pits, others lifting their loads of sand, while the rest had taken a break.
At Atunsu, near the Owere Mines, the miners had carried their operation close to the palace of the chief. At another mining site at Atunsu, some illegal miners were seen busily pumping water out of their mining pits as a result of a heavy rainfall the previous day.
According to the illegal miners who spoke to the Daily Graphic, they were offered parcels of the land by the management of the mines to prospect for gold.
The activities of the illegal miners have angered some of the residents of Konongo-Odumase.
Reacting to the operations of the miners, some of the residents called on the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to probe the circumstances leading to the sale of the lands by officials of the mine to be used for illegal mining.
Water and air pumping machies at one of the mine sites
According to the aggrieved citizens, although the Owere Mines was officially defunct, what was going on now posed great danger to the future of the mine which was supposed to attract some foreign investors.
Mr Godson Akyaw, a senior citizen, told the Daily Graphic that it was the expectation of the people that some investors would soon come and take over the facility.
Most of the miners interviewed mentioned a senior geologist of the mines, Mr Akwasi Sarfo Kantanka, as the one who allegedly sold parcels of the land to them to prospect for gold.
When contacted, Mr Sarfo Kantanka refused to comment but said he had to seek clearance from the directors of the mines before he could comment on the illegal activities at the mines.
He was, however, angry with the staff of the mines for allowing the Daily Graphic to meet him without an appointment.
One of thre packed excavators packed at Atunsu as aresult of the ban of the operations of illegal mining
The acting Secretary of the Konongo-Odumase Small-Scale Miners Association, Mr Derrick Frimpong, told the Daily Graphic that although they had heard about the national campaign against illegal mining, they were still in business due to the permission granted them by the management of the Owere Mines.
He appealed to the government to streamline activities of all small-scale miners to avert further destruction of the environment.
The Konongo Division Commander of Police, Superintendent Bossman Ohene-Boadi, however, gave a different account of the situation.
According to him, he had formed a police patrol task force in the area which went round to ensure that no one indulged in the act.
He, therefore, expressed surprise at the report that there were still some illegal miners operating in the Owere Mines since he had ordered all miners there to stop their operations.
One of the mining holes at use in the Owere mines area
Mr Ohene-Boadi mentioned Peminase, Bomfo, Odumase, Juansa, Atunsu, Bonta, Boamresu as some of the areas where the task force had been able to stop the illegal miners from operating.