The fight against mining in our water bodies appears to be far from over, considering the extent of destruction and pollution being caused to River Tano most particularly, a source of water for the people of Samreboi in Amenfi West of the Western Region.
An indigenous large scale mining company (name withheld) working in the area is said to have caused, not only destruction to cocoa trees dotted along the river by cutting down large hectares of farms to pave way for mining activities, but also succeeded in polluting the river by discharging ‘washing’ waste into it.
Information available to this reporter indicates that considering the extent of damage done by the said mining company to cocoa farms and the river, opinion leaders, including traditional leaders in the area, made a report to the Chairman of the Municipal Security Council (MUSEC).
The MUSEC, led by its Chairman who is also the Municipal Chief Executive, Lord Nana Tanoh, raided the mine with a joint military and police team to seize excavators and other equipment belonging to the company, and closed it down.
Speaking in a telephone interview, the MCE confirmed the raid, but was quick to add that there was no evidence that the pollution of the river could be traced to the said indigenous mining firm.
Distancing the mining company from the pollution of the river, the MUSEC Chairman told this reporter that the said mine had been closed down over a month ago as a result they could not be behind the destruction.
He further told this reporter that, he, together with a team, had realised that the pollution of River Tano in Samreboi could be traced to Sefwi Wiawso. Meaning, the pollution had its source in Wiawso coming down to Samreboi.
In that direction, he had taken pictures and forwarded them to the Regional Minister.
In that direction, MCE Tanoh said the closure of the mine had nothing to do with pollution of the river, but as a result of issues it had with the Mineral Commission.
A source at the Mineral Commission confirmed to this reporter that an indigenous large scale mine operating in the area had been closed down. The source explained that the Commission closed down the company because it realised that it did not have a mining operating permit, albeit it had a lease.
The mine, according to our information, was undertaking mining exploration in the area, yet was mining secretly, that apart, the local indigenous firm did not have a mining operating plan, neither had the said mining operating plan been approved by the Commission.
But speaking in a telephone interview, a former elected Assembly Member and now a government appointee of the Amenfi West Municipal Assembly, Ofosu Asare, told this reporter the indigenous large scale mine could not be distanced from the pollution.
According to him, the indigenous company had three sites in Atala, Datano and Ohiampenipa, where it was carrying out mining, further adding that the three sites were all close to the river near large tracts of cocoa farms.
The government appointee continued that the indigenous mine was led by two Ghanaians and a Chinese.
He said the mine forcibly took over large tracts of cocoa farms from farmers, after offering them a pittance in exchange.
According to him, though the cocoa farmers were against exchanging their farms for mining, they had no other option.
This was because the ring leaders behind the mine claimed to have the backing of ‘strong men up there’ and whether they (farmers) accepted the pittance offered them in exchange for their farms or not, they would cut down their trees.
“So, in order to lose your farm without getting anything, you only have to accept the pittance offered by the ring leaders in exchange for your cocoa farms.”