The Inter-Ministerial Committee Against Illegal Mining has recommended that the government adopt a policy that will enjoin Chinese arriving in Ghana from China to secure their visas at the Ghana Embassy in Beijing, instead of being issued with visas on arrival in Ghana.
Addressing a durbar of the chiefs and people of the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area in Kyebi in the Eastern Region, the Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Mr Kofi Dzamesi, said the recommendation, if adopted, could help check the situation where some Chinese had taken advantage of the existing policy of issuing Ghanaian visas on arrival to visit the country only to engage in illegal mining.
The personnel, who are expected to pass out next week, he added, were to complement the work of members of Operation Vanguard, most of whom had no swimming and river-body skills.
Additionally, he said, priority would be given to communities affected by illegal mining under the government’s one-district, one-factory initiative.
He said the various metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) had been mandated to register people whose livelihoods, hitherto, hinged on illegal mining for them to be trained at the University for Mines and Technology in Tarkwa (UMaT) in the Western Region on modern mining methods.
So far, about 300 people had been trained by the UMaT on modern mining methods.
According to Mr Dzamesi, as a result of losing their source of livelihood, communities affected by the ban were to be given priority attention under the one-district, one-factory policy of the government.
That, he said, was to ensure that the communities secure alternative sources of livelihood to prevent them from being attracted to illegal mining.
Furthermore, he said, the government would use modern technology to track illegal miners.
He said a Google search application was being introduced to track down people engaging in illegal mining.
He warned staff of the Minerals Commission against the issuance of mining licences without due process and said those found culpable would be dealt with in accordance with the law.
A member of the Council of State, Nana Mireku Somuah Nyampong, expressed worry that in spite of the ban on illegal mining, some miscreants continued to indulge in the activity during the night.
The Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, wondered why, in spite of the existence of laws, people continued to engage in illegal mining.
For her part, the President of the Eastern Regional Queenmothers Association, Nana Adutwumwaa Dokua, was happy about the fact that since illegal mining was banned, enrolment of children in basic schools had increased.
During an open forum, the chiefs lambasted the Minerals Commission for its role in the galamsey menace.