The Inter-Ministerial Taskforce Against illegal mining last Thursday arrested 31 people, including 16 Chinese nationals, at the Kobro Forest Reserve in the Amansie Central District in the Ashanti Region for engaging in illegal mining (galamsey).
The team also impounded 14 brand new pump action guns and one M16 assault rifle from the illegal miners.
In addition, six excavators, walkie-talkies, bundles of cash, machetes and packs of condoms were seized in the exercise.
The arrest is the single biggest involving foreign nationals by the task force since it began its operations in the country.
Briefing the Daily Graphic, the spokesman for the taskforce, Captain Edward Senanu Akakpo, said the suspects had been handed over to the Obuasi Central Police for further investigations and prosecution.
According to him, the team had a tip-off that some illegal mining activities were going on in the forest.
He said after further investigations “we called for reinforcement and went in to effect their arrest.”
Two ex-servicemen who were at the site tried to stop the taskforce from going ahead with the arrest, claiming that they were not operating illegally and that they had documents covering the concession which Capt. Akakpo described as the largest so far seen in the area.
The government in 2017 launched the inter-ministerial committee against illegal mining to combat their activities that were destroying the environment and also polluting water bodies in mining communities.
Later, the government also put a moratorium on all small-scale mining, including those of miners with permits. Currently, the government is vetting the licences of the small-scale miners in the country after which those deemed qualified could be allowed to resume mining.