A group of small scale miners in the Ellembelle District of the Western Region have named the constituency chair, secretary , a drone pilot and six other party executives as being complicit in their ‘illegal’ mining operation at Anwia; a rural community in the district.
The group at a press conference held at their mining site, claimed that these persons extorted money from them, promising to secure a community mining license for them and also offer protection from any arrest or confiscation of their logistics by IMCIM taskforce or any other regulatory agency.
The Chairman, Samuel Atito Kenya; Secretary, John Nwolley, and a drone pilot whose name was given as Ntiakoh, are a few named persons who met the various mining gangs to negotiate this ‘deal’, one of the miners furiously stated.
According to them, some miners were arrested by the police upon the command of the District Chief Executive(DCE) for the area, a situation which triggered the negotiation with the party executive after their bailout. The desperate miners prayed to have the DCE intervene and that, support them in securing a community mining license, so they could avoid future confrontation and arrest.
“We wanted to talk to him but we were not getting him. So we decided to pass it through the constituency executives because they are closer to him. We did. We were granted bail and they sat down with us…they want us to pay an amount so that they could legalise the whole thing for us” they said.
A lead of one of the mining gangs, John Lingluley, alleged that Chairman Atito and his team demanded a bi-weekly fee of GH25,000.00 from each of the mining gangs. He disclosed that, it took them a great deal of effort persuading them to accept GHC10,000.00 each from the gangs, within the terms of their agreement.
“They were demanding GH25,000.00 but we pleaded they take GH10,000.00. So we started paying from October last year, every two weeks we pay this amount to Chairman Atito and his cohort” he exclaimed.
Allegations of DCE’s involvement
The group comprising of about 11 mining gangs, disputed allegations rounded up against the District Chief Executive for the area, Kwasi Bonzo, as being a party to this illicit business. They stated that, their arrest by the DCE, was evident of the fact that the party executives contracted the deal with them at the blind side of the DCE.
They thus, sworn to curse these party executives for extorting monies from them.
Reclamation of mined areas
Upon the advice of the DCE, Mr. Bonzo, the miners have initiated processes to reclaim lands that have been mined. Three excavators and a bulldozer were seen busily pushing earth into pits at the mine site.
Mr. Lingluley told Skyy News the DCE has promised to facilitate the application for a community mining license after the reclamation exercise has passed an environmental assessment. This he said “is reassuring”.
One of the miners who claimed to have undergone training in responsible mining, under the UMaT-IMCIM community mining program; Mr. Napoleon, said he had to vouch for the group to ensure the right thing is done before they ever embark on another mining operation in the area.