Four expatriates engaged in galamsey at Tontokrom in the Amansie West District in the Ashanti Region have been arrested.
The four top managers of the company – Coemwotit Putats and Chepainyi Serchii – all Ukrainians – Farid Issaer, a Russian and one other person, are to be sent to Accra for prosecution.
Their arrest was caused by the Lands and Natural Resources Minister, John Peter Amewu when he paid a visit to some illegal mining sites on Monday.
The company owned and run by Russians and Ukrainians was mining on concessions fronted by three Ghanaian companies – Kasmil Mining Company Limited, K. Afriyie and Sons Precious Metal Company and King Solomon Mining Company.
According to reports by the Daily Guide newspaper, each of the three companies secured licences for 25 acres of land from the Lands Commission but according to the residents, GPS has been mining on more 500 acres of land for the past 25 years and causing a lot of devastation in the area.
Their activities have depleted the entire land area, and destroyed four rivers that have been sources of drinking water at Tontokrom.
Residents claim police and military personnel deployed to guard the mine assault them whenever they challenge the 'galamseyers' on the illegality.
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The minister on his visit to the galamsey site including five police personnel led by one Corporal Dorzie Peter and some military personnel arrested the Russian and the Ukrainian galamsey operators.
Mr Peter Amewu who ordered the arrest of the Russian, Ukrainian galamsey operators said, "Your license is for small-scale mining, which is the preserve of Ghanaian nationals. In effect, what you are doing is illegal.
"See what you have done to the environment. You can’t do this in your country. And I want you to stop work immediately."
Meanwhile, John Peter Amewu has accused some personnel of the Ghana Armed Forces High command for providing security for galamsey operators.
He said "The law enforcement agency, especially the Military are protecting an illegality and I think that it is time the truth be told. Most of the sites we visited today were heavily manned by the military command and I was wondering under what circumstances [were they undertaking this exercise] because my outfit had under no circumstance signed any contract with the military to protect those illegalities."
"We tried finding out from the Minerals Commission and the Minerals Commission has established beyond all reasonable doubt that they have never under any occasion established any contract with those military and so whoever authorised that military to be protecting the Russian and Ukranian sites, I think it is time, those people answer very important questions. I don’t think the military will be doing those protections because they are military and of course they will be paid handsome reward for those activities they are undertaking…Until the law enforcement agencies begin to take this action seriously I don’t think there is any way we will achieve our objective," the Minister said in an interview on Accra-based Citi FM.