The Concerned Small Scale Miners Association says its members have packed out of their concessions to avoid harassment by military personnel under the government’s ‘Operation Halt’ exercise.
The Operation Halt taskforce has recently burned hundreds of chanfan machines and several excavators belonging to miners in the Eastern, Central, and Western Regions.
The Association has raised concerns about government’s approach in the fight against illegal mining, claiming that the destruction of mining equipment has affected some of its members who are duly licensed to operate.
The National President of the Association, Kwadwo Peprah, indicated in a Citi News interview that ‘Operation Halt’ may affect innocent legal miners, for which reason they have decided to pack out temporarily.
“As a matter of fact, all small scale miners have packed out because per the order of the Minister, he said the military has been given the mandate to clear all persons mining in forest reserves and people working on the various water bodies.
“As we speak, there is no technocrat among the military to ascertain whether you have your license or not. In order not to fall victim to whatever is happening, we have decided to pack out and see whatever action we can take,” he disclosed.
The government has already justified the burning of seized excavators used for illegal mining in some parts of the country, despite growing concerns about the approach.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, has said his outfit will use any means necessary to curb illegal mining.
“They are demobilizing the excavators and making them incapable of being used for the illegality they are involved in. What will an excavator be doing on River Pra or River Offin? The destruction you have seen [only means that] extraordinary times require extraordinary measures,” the Minister told Citi News.
Government has also explained that it is not going after mining licenses, but rather going after the illegality being perpetuated by both licensed and unlicensed miners.