Three illegal miners have been arrested in the Anhwiaso East forest reserve in the Bibiani-Ahwiaso-Bekwai District of the Western North Region.
They are among a syndicate destroying the forest reserve to mine gold in the area.
The suspects, Adams Musa, Ibrahim Musa and Amidu Seidu, were arrested by forest guards while mining gold in the forest reserve and they have since been handed over to the police.
Four excavators were also seized.
Illegal mining is resurfacing strongly in parts of Bibiani following the government’s lifting of the ban on small scale mining.
There is widespread destruction of the Anhwiaso East forest reserve through the activities of illegal miners.
Some stretches of the forest reserve have been burnt, lots of economic trees and water bodies within the reserve have also been destroyed and polluted while pits have been left uncovered.
The illegal miners have been operating without permit, destroying acres of the vegetation cover, obstructing and polluting the Oda and Subin rivers which serve the water needs of residents.
The Bibiani Forest Service manager, Eric Asare, is overwhelmed by the level of destruction said they were working to stop illegal operators from destroying the forest reserves in the area.
“We have intensified our patrols in all the forest reserves and we are leaving no stone un-turned to make sure that we flush out all illegal operators in our reserves. He said there is the issue of illegal farming, logging and chainsaw operation,” he said.
The Bibiani District Police Commander, Superintendent Christopher Owusu Mpianim, said investigations have commenced to establish whether they were involved in the illegal mining within the forest reserve.
“We need to investigate to find out whether in indeed they are involved in the offences for which they have been arrested. We are currently investigating a case of illegal mining but our initial investigations has revealed that these gentlemen were sent there as security officers for someone who they are yet to reveal,” he told journalists.
He was optimistic that those behind the illegal mining will show up once their equipment have been seized.
“We believe strongly that once these equipment have been confiscated it is likely that owners of the machines will go there and own themselves up,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said the fact that the suspects have denied their involvement does not mean they will be left off the hook.
By Benjamin Aidoo|3news.com|Ghana