As part of renewed effort to clamp down illegal mining and formalise the small- scale mining sector, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources will in the next six months introduce three high-speed Diamond DA-42 aircraft for surveillance.
A Deputy Minister of Lands responsible for mines, George Mireku Duker, announced this during an inspection of the Aircrafts at the Takoradi Airforce Base.
He explained that it would be done in collaboration with the Ghana Air Force and the Ghana Chamber of Mines to repair some specialised aircrafts which will undertake Intelligence, Surveillance and Recognizance (ISR) survey of illegal mining areas.
The three aircrafts, he indicated, had been out of service since 2014. He, however, noted that repair works, estimated to cost ₤700,000, are expected to be paid for the retrofitting of the aircraft before they are deployed.
Mr Mireku Duker explained that the committee will submit a report to both the sector Minister and the Chamber of Mines.
He also indicated what informed government’s decision to take the cost-effective route of undertaking repair works instead of purchasing new equipment which will serve the same purpose.
“This is an effort we are making to clampdown on recalcitrant persons who are still determined to destroy our industry. We want to streamline and regulate activities in the mining sector…We believe that it is cost-effective compared to procuring drones and other equipment. Though drones may have their efficiencies, this could be in the air for hours without being noticed and collect evidence that can be used in the court of law,” he noted.
The Deputy Lands Minister reiterated that the work on the aircrafts is expected to last six months. “The servicing works on the aircrafts will see the replacement of crashes, hard drives, outdated software and engines among others,” he assured.
Mr Mireku Duker commended the Chamber of Mines for their immeasurable and patriotic effort towards the fight against illegal mining. He also lauded the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) for its unalloyed support to the Ministry in the execution of its projects and initiatives aimed at protecting the environment.
According to him, his outfit enjoyed tremendous support from the Ghana Armed Forces in the implementation of projects such as the Green Ghana, among others.
The Deputy Minister observed that the Ghana Armed Forces have played a frontal role in the battle, stressing “the strides made wouldn’t have been possible without the diligent and selfless work of the Military”.
He, however, indicated that 2023 presents an opportunity for his outfit as well as the Military to collaborate closely and step up the fight to stamp out illegal mining in the country.
“The Ministry is ready to deepen its collaboration with the Military to not only fight illegal mining but also deal with issues in the Land and Forestry space,” Mr Duker assured.
For his part, the Chief of Defense Staff, Vice Admiral Seth Amoama, said the frequent engagement initiated by the Ministry with the Armed Forces shows the premium and appreciation the Ministry put on its relationship with the Army.
He further reaffirmed the military’s commitment in the fight against illegal mining, saying “we remain resolute and will avail ourselves for the national course when we are called upon”.