In the standard Mineral Right Agreement, “the holder is prohibited from conducting any operations in a sacred area. It further requires the written consent of the Minister to conduct its operations: (a) within 100 meters of any forest reserve, river, stream, building, installation, reservoir or dam, public road, railway or area appropriated for a railway.”
This means mining within 100 meters radius of any river bank in Ghana is prohibited by law.
Therefore, when government recently sent the military to flush out illegal miners from Ghana’s water bodies it gave clear instructions to the military to destroy equipment of miners operating within 100 meters of any water body.
However, some of the military men working with ‘Operation Halt’, the group sent by President Akufo-Addo to remove persons and equipment used in mining activities, are calling on government to review this ‘100 meters radius law’. They are asking the government to extend this 100m operational distance to about 2 kilometers.
The reason for their request is that activities of some miners who are operating beyond 100m are also causing harm to Ghana’s water bodies and that the law must be reviewed.
According to them, failure to review the law would render the fight against illegal mining useless.
The plea was made by one of the military men of “Operation Halt”, in a video circulating on Social Media platforms.
This plea comes shortly after the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Information held a presser to discuss how successful Phase 1 & 2 of ‘Operation Halt’ turned out to be and their plans to launch the third phase.
‘Operation Halt’, a program initiated by the government, consist of military men whose mandate is to patrol Ghana’s river bodies and flush out people who are engaged in illegal mining and polluting water bodies due to their activities.
The first phase of the operation commenced on April 28 and ended on April 30, while the second phase commenced on May 7 and ended on May 9.
Phase 2 of the operation saw the burning of 28 excavators, 267 Changfan machines with platforms, 18 water pumping machines and 1 milling machine.
Other items that were destroyed include; 1 dredging machine, 2 industrial pumps,10 plastic fuel tanks, 5 canoes, 1 wooden accommodation, 8 industrial batteries and 2 pump action guns.
Also ceased but not destroyed were 21 new pumping machines, a truck and a washing platform.
All these machines belong to people who were operating within 100 meters of Ghana’s water bodies.
Videos from the mining scenes which were shown to the media at the press conference indeed illustrated how the military spared those who operated within the confines of the law.
However, the viral video by the military man has revealed how Ghana would lose the fight if she does not review the operational distance.
In the video, the military man explained how one of these well-established mining companies had connected their sophisticated machines with two pipes into a river.
He indicated that one of the pipes is used to draw water from the river to wash their gold after which they discharge the waste or contaminated water back into the river through the second pipe.
However, the military man indicated that this company cannot be dealt with because it is operating within the law.
“So this 100 meters caveat we are working with is not feasible. We have to review it if we really want to succeed. Let’s review it to give us the freedom to operate.
“If we really want to make impact, we need to make the minimum operational distance 2 kilometers. Anything within 2 kilometers should be destroyed”.