About one thousand five hundred (1,500) illegal miners who for a long period invaded mining concession of FGM mining company using explosives have been blocked at Noyem in Birim North District of the Eastern region.

Hundreds of these illegal miners from Noyem and surrounding communities made up of both males and females throng a shaft abandoned by former owners of the concession to illegally mine every.

The illegal miners use explosives to blast rocks underground after which the fragmented rocks are loaded into sacks, carried out and hauled away in large quantities.

Apart from posing serious danger to the safety of the illegal miners, vibration from the unannounced blasts cause panic among nearby communities.

It is also reported to be weakening buildings causing agitations from the affected persons against the FGM company, although not responsible.

FGM mining company has therefore conducted security operations to flush out the illegal miners and reclaimed the large open mining pits and shaft to avert deadly disaster.

Two excavators were also seized during the operation.

The exercise was met with minimal resistance by the illegal miners whose only concern were that enough notice was not given to them hence have made huge loses having purchased explosives to blast in the shaft a day before.

They accused the chief of the town for deceiving them that they could go ahead to mine.

According to the illegal miners ,the site has become a source of livelihood for over five thousand people in the community therefore denying them access would be a huge blow.

The illegal miners say they make between Ghc1,000 to Ghc5000 daily from gold they extract from the shaft.

“It will really affect us because there are no jobs here, Okada and galamsey business is what we do for a living once you complete school. Some of us earn Ghc 1,000 a day, this is the work I did to take care of my education, others are also depending on this work for their entire life so if they stop us from doing this work should we go and steal and imaging if you go and steal too you may be jailed for about 5 years. Then they should employ us else we will come after them with guns in the night, they should think about the youth” an aggrieved illegal miners said.

Another miner told Starr News on top of his voice that “We put the blame on the chief for selling the land without informing us. What he did nearly landed us into trouble because clashing with the soldiers on the land he sold might have resulted in another chaos and people may die out of this. We dig the hole and enter after that we plaster the inside you will have to also employ labourers, buy diesel and petrol in fact you will bear all the cost by yourself. We always interact with the Chief and he always guide us. But now we have incurred huge debts of about Ghc 150 million old cedis because we bought three pullers. This and many others cost when estimated may cost about 2 billion old cedis that we have loss. Almost 1500 people, male and female work here daily”

However, the Executive Assistant in charge of operation, Emmanuel Okai Mintah, told Starr News the operation was necessary to avert disaster.

He said recently some illegal miners were trapped dead in other parts of the district again, a 14 year old girl drowned in one of the abandoned illegal mining pits at Wusiwusi on the concession of Akroma Mining company at the blind side of the company Therefore the need to secure the concession to protect lives and properties.

“What you see here is not anything different it is what we term reclamation exercise. Many years ago the owners of this concession developed some shafts for underground mining. It’s been left opened for a very long time so illegal miners have taken advantage to mine.”

He added “regardless of that we have had complaints from the community two three months ago that people keep on blasting within the shafts so when it happens like that it shakes their communities their buildings and all that, so they tend to come to our office to complain that they beg we should hold on to the blasting to relocate them but we keep on telling them we have not even started work yet here. We are now putting up our office structures and other stuffs .so our investigation showed that there are illegal miners operating day and night so what as management we decided to act”.

Emmanuel Okai Mintah said the company is committed to training and employing some of the youth in its mining operation.

He also said the company will continue its corporate social interventions to improve the living standards of the people.

Source: Ghana/Starrfm.com.gh/Obed Kojo Ansah