The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, has given a three-week ultimatum to all illegal miners to stop their activities or be prepared to face the full rigours of the law.
The government, he said, was also coming up with a well-rehearsed strategy to implement drastic punitive measures to ensure that all people who connived to fund the activities of the illegal miners were dealt with.
“This time round, we will not take things lightly because we believe that China and India are the sources of funding for these illegal miners; so we are dealing with the root cause of the menace,” Mr Amewu said in an interview with the Daily Graphic Tuesday.
The minister said the road map to dealing with the illegal mining menace included the use of dialogue and other cordial mechanisms, for which reason he met a Chinese delegation last Monday to discuss the way forward.
“It was reported in a section of the media that I appeared to be begging the Chinese to stop the practice, but that was not the case.
“Illegal mining, otherwise known as galamsey, has been carried out for many decades and needs to be tackled with the tact and urgency it deserves, so if begging can do the trick, I do not see anything wrong with that. But I can assure the public that in the next three weeks they will see the roll-out of full-scale measures to tackle the menace,” he said.
Illegal mining has been a major national development challenge that many governments have grappled with over the years.
Apart from depriving the country of its agricultural land, the practice has resulted in the pollution of major water bodies, depriving many people of their sources of livelihood.
In some cases, the illegal miners, mostly Chinese, have had violent confrontations with residents of communities where the practice goes on, leading to loss of lives and properties.
Some traditional rulers and opinion leaders have been linked to the practice because they appear to be providing space for the illegal miners to operate.
Touching on the involvement of local influencers in the menace, Mr Amewu said anyone found behind the illegal mining activities would be brought to book in the interest of the country.
“We are going all out to ensure that all culprits, including chiefs, religious leaders and political figures, are held in check to stop the practice.
“It is a strong warning to any of these people who are in one way or another fuelling the practice to desist from it before they are caught in the web to face the consequential action,” he said.
Mr Amewu underscored the need for all stakeholders, including the media, to collaborate and take up the fight against illegal mining, adding: “We are all at risk of suffering the consequences of the activities of illegal miners.”
He lauded the advocacy role the media had embarked on to augment the strategies by the government aimed at rooting out the menace.