The anti-illegal mining task force commissioned last week on Sunday evening clashed with illegal miners in the Ashanti Region, leaving one illegal miner dead.
Public Relations Officer of Operation Vanguard, Major Gariba Pabi, said around 17:00 GMT personnel from the Ashanti Region on patrol met stone-pelting illegal miners at Wawasi, a community in Obuasi notorious for galamsey.
He said as the task force moved on the illegal miners they fired a gun at the patrol, and in a bid to protect themselves, the team fired back to disperse the agitated miners.
After the illegal miners had escaped, the task force found that one of the illegal miners had been shot, Major Pabi said.
The injured illegal miner was given first aid and sent to the hospital but was later pronounced dead by doctors.
“We didn’t intend to start this operation with blood. No that is not why we are here. We are here to ensure that illegal mining is stopped and our environment is protected,” Major Pabi told Joy News Beatrice Adu in an interview.
Major Gariba Pabi said the identity of the deceased miner is yet to be ascertained, but said the incident could have been avoided had the illegal miners not cause an upset.
“They were pelting stones maybe to reduce the speed of our people from arresting them so they have to also fight back and run,” said Major Pabi.
The rest of the miners escaped, but Major Pabi is confident they will be arrested.
Operation Vanguard — the combined team of military and police personnel tasked with stamping out illegal mining activities in the country – has made many arrests at galamsey hotspots across the country since the deployment, Major Pabi revealed.
The deployment of the 400-strong personnel is part of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s heightened resolve to end the menace in the country after a ban on small scale mining failed to deter the miners.
“We are here to carry out the President’s special initiative against galamsey, so if you are a galamsey member you know that it is illegal so please leave the mining site so that you will not be arrested,” he cautioned.
The resistance of the illegal mining activities in the face of the Government’s vigorous clampdown has been blamed partly on the lack of an alternative source of livelihood for the miners.
National Association of Small Scale Miners recently warned that the sacking of the small scale miners could lead to other vices if the Government fails to resettle them in gainful employment.
Meanwhile, the Government says it will need at least GHC500 million to find alternative livelihood for people who are affected by the ban on small scale mining.
Lands and Natural Resources Minister, John Peter Amewu, explained that a five-year Multilateral Mining Integrated Programme (MMIP) which is aimed at eradicating galamsey will be made possible by an annual budget of GHC100 million.