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727 'galamseyers' on trial — Attorney-General discloses

The Attorney-General (A-G) and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, has disclosed that a total of 727 individuals are standing trial across the country over their alleged involvement in illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey.

Galamsey

He said the 727 individuals were involved in 117 cases pending before various High Courts and Circuit Courts.

The Eastern Region accounted for 50 of the 117 cases, 33 in the Western Region, 23 in the Ashanti Region, and seven in the Greater Accra Region, with the Upper East and Northern regions recording three and one respectively.

In a statement, Dame said on average, a typical galamsey case involves the arrest and prosecution of at least six or seven individuals. Most of the cases are prosecuted in the region in which the arrests were effected.

The principal legal advisor to the government said the 727 accused persons had been charged with offenses such as undertaking mining operations without a licence and buying and selling minerals without licence.

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Touching on the punishment of the offences for the illegal miners, Dame indicated that under the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act, 2019 (Act 995), which attracted stiffer punishment and which was an amendment to the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703).

Under Section 99 of Act 995, a Ghanaian engaged in illegal mining, or one who commands, instigates, or employs others to engage in illegal mining commits an offence and is liable, upon summary conviction, to a fine of not less than 10,000 penalty units (GH¢120,000) and not more than 15,000 penalty units (GH¢180,000) and a term of imprisonment of not less than 15 years and not more than 25 years.

For a foreigner engaged in illegal mining, Act 995 stipulates a fine of not less than 100,000 penalty units (GH¢1.2 million) and not more than 300,000 penalty units (GH¢3.6 million) and a term of imprisonment of not less than 20 years and not more than 25 years, or both the fine and the term of imprisonment.

The A-G said the passage of Act 995 in 2019 was a demonstration by the Akufo-Addo administration that it would not leave any stone unturned in the fight against illegal mining, and would go all out, including making sure such people were prosecuted and punished accordingly.

The mining sector has historically been one of the major economic activities that contribute to national growth.

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Many countries have grown their economic stature by extrapolating natural resources through mining.

Given the economic boom, not much attention is paid to the health implications of mining activities.

Ghana is among the top mineral-producing countries in Africa.

While large-scale mining companies obtain permits to extract the minerals, smaller groups, and individuals also engage in small-scale artisanal mining.

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