Some small-scale miners in Cherikpong in the Nadowli-Kaleo District of the Upper West Region have told the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, that the use of soldiers to stop them from mining will not deter them.
“You see, you can bring millions of your soldiers into the bush, we will run away, they go, tomorrow we’re there, we won’t sleep, we won’t sleep,” a leader of the miners, Ray Sualih, told the minister during a stakeholder engagement on the roadmap to lifting the ban on small-scale mining.
The miners doubt the genuineness of the government’s intentions in lifting the ban as they allege all the mining concessions have been given out to a mining company called Azuma Mineral Resources.
Ray Sualih, popularly known as Ray Packer, said Azuma Mineral Resources claimed the whole Upper West Region is their concession.
He therefore quizzed the minister where government will get land for small-scale miners to mine should the ban be lifted, since the company is claiming ownership of all the land in the Region.
“Minister, do you know Azumah said the whole of the Region is his concession? Do you know that? So, if you people are not deceiving us, if the whole region is his concession, assuming you say you’re going to map out somewhere for us, unless you go and beg them [Azuma Mineral Resources],” he said.
“Honourable, will you have somewhere to go give me? Because it has already been released to somebody,” he added.
He pleaded with the minister to clearly define the stake of Azumah Mineral Resources in the Upper West Region to allay their fears of being deceived by government.
Meanwhile, the chiefs and people of the area are also making the same plea to government to help evict Azuma Mineral Resources from further prospecting for gold on their farm lands.
According to them, farming activities have been stopped because the mineral resources company deploy security men who harass them on their farms.
The sector minister has been embarking on a national sensitization tour of traditional councils on the roadmap in lifting the ban on small-scale mining.
At the same stakeholder engagement in Cherikpong, the chief of Nanga, Naa Seidu Nanga Naa, told the minister their ordeal
“When Azuma brought some security people to our farms my family was running and asked why I wasn’t running too, but as an old man can I run? Only God knows how I got home. I’m not lying by God’s name, I can’t live with Azuma in this community today and tomorrow because I see that they will one day even ask us to leave the community,” he recounted.
As part of the road map towards lifting the ban on small-scale mining, the government is currently training interested people who want to go into mining at the University of Mines and Technology in Tarkwa to enable them gain mining licence for concessions.
Cherikpong is a cluster of 34 communities which shares border with Burkina Faso through the Black Volta River.