Tension is building up in Adiewoso, a farming community in the Ahanta West Municipal Assembly of the Western Region, as hundreds of illegal small scale miners have refused to move out of a concession belonging to the Ghana Rubber Estates Limited GREL.
The irate illegal miners, numbering over 200, insist their operation is under government’s Community Mining project, a claim GREL vehemently refutes.
Thus, a team of officers from Operation Vanguard on Monday morning stormed the mining site to stop the activities of the young men.
The miners were busily prospecting for gold on a large tract of land on the €550,000 Estate Division 3 concession of the Ghana Rubber Estates Limited (GREL) when the team got to the site.
Yet-to-be harvested and budding rubber trees, numbering over a 100, had been cleared to make way for the mining activities.
But when the team got to the site, the miners charged on them insisting that their operation is legal and under government’s Community Mining project.
“This land was given to us by the Chief and the opinion leaders. The government has invested so much in us by sending us to UMaT to train us in mining. What we are doing here is legal. So we don’t understand why this morning, these policemen are here. They just want to harass us. We will not allow that to happen,” one of the miners said.
The charged miners accused GREL of trying to take away their livelihood.
But in an interview, Corporate Affairs Manager of GREL Perry Acheampong explained to 3news.com that their checks at the Ahanta West Municipal Assembly have revealed that the activity is illegal.
“Last week Thursday, we had report that some young men had invaded a part of our concession and are mining. So, we went to the Assembly but was told that nobody has been given the right to engage in any community mining project. In fact, we were told that the group had applied for a community mining project but approval has not been given yet.”
He stated that the activity if not checked will affect their investment and also the expected revenue to the government.
“Our expect revenue of €3.5 million for the next decades is being threatened.
“As a company, we are not against government’s efforts to create employment. But so far, what we know is that this activity is simply an illegality. In the past, we have gladly given parts of our concession to government. For example for the Ghana Gas Pipeline and during the construction of the Apimanim to Elubo Highway. So anytime we have to give out land we will do so based on discussion and agreement.”
He said, “so we are appealing to government, the Regional Coordinating Council and the Ahanta West Municipal Assembly to intervene and help stop this illegality.”
Checks by 3news at the Ahanta West Municipal Assembly revealed the assembly has no record of any Community Mining Project.