The Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, has warned illegal miners working at night that they do so at their own risk.
He noted that, during the different phases of ‘Operation Halt’, some miners were found to be carrying out their activities at night.
At a press briefing in Accra on Wednesday, Dominic Nitiwul said the military has been equipped to deal with such recalcitrant miners.
“We know that they do that from 9:00pm to 4:00am. That’s how brave they are. We know, and we know the towns they are doing it in, so we will come after you. Don’t try it,” Mr. Nitiwul warned.
“So if you go out there to mine, I cannot guarantee your safety when the soldiers are going to apprehend you. So I will advise you to not go out. It is not worth it.”
Mr. Nitiwul also defended the decision of the military to burn the mining equipment of miners operating illegally.
He indicated that licensed mining companies operating near water bodies would be treated as illegal miners.
“What they did not know is that we are not touching the licenses. It is the illegalities we are touching. Our target was protecting water bodies and their tributaries, not your license.”
“You can have a license but if you were destroying the water bodies, the soldiers were supposed to make sure that they take out the equipment that you were using. So soldiers were not out to inspect licences,” the Minister explained.
He cited a company called Kibi Goldfields which had authentic documentation but was operating unlawfully.
“They had diverted the water and are polluting the water bodies so they burned their equipment,” Mr. Nitiwul said.
The Minister’s comments come after the Xtra Gold Mining Limited had complained about the burning of their excavators by the military, saying it fell outside the task force’s mandate.
Its CEO, Kate Gyamfuah, also the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) National Women’s Organizer, said legal redress was even an option.
Mr. Nitiwul stressed that it wasn’t just the NPP executive’s company that had been affected by the work of the task force.
“Maybe because they [other mining companies] don’t have a political voice, they were not making noise. But their equipment was destroyed as well,” he said.