Three Chinese have been arrested by the police for engaging in illegal quarry activities at the Shai Hills in Greater Accra.
They were arrested Tuesday (March 3, 2020) on the orders of the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, who was on a tour of the site for a proposed industrial enclave and urban renewal project located in the Afienya-Dawhenya area in the Greater Accra Region.
They were handed over to the Tema Police Command for interrogation.
An enterprise, Skyline Excellent Company Limited, run by the three men was engaged in quarrying activities without the required permit.
Apart from encroaching on the land for the industrial project, the Chinese were in addition using explosives to blast rocks at the quarry site which was also against the law.
The country’s mining laws require anyone who wants to mine to acquire the necessary documentation, including a mining licence, operation permit and authorisation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Regulation One of the Minerals and Mining (Explosives) Regulations, 2012 (L.I 2177) spells out clearly that a permit needed to be acquired in respect of the conveyance, storage, possession, manufacture and use of explosives for mining.
By the regulation, no one can use explosives at a quarry site for blasting without a permit from the Minerals Commission.
However, the minister who led a team of officials from the Lands Commission and armed policemen to monitor land encroachment activities in the area found that the Chinese operators had no documents to back their activities.
Drama unfolded when the minister demanded documents on the quarry from the Chinese.
When it became clear that they did not have the right documents to back their operations, one of them, who appeared to be the leader, attempted to sneak away but was grabbed by the police and handcuffed.
Sensing danger, the two others who were actively quarrying in a deep pit, came out and took to their heels.
Mr Asomah-Cheremeh joined the police to give the Chinese a hot chase and to eventually arrest them.
“They have been arrested because they do not have an operating permit. They also do not have permit to deal in explosives which are quite deadly and which is why before you do blasting at mining sites you give notification of the set day of the activity for precautions to be taken,” he said.
Some youth who were labourers at the quarry site and were also engaged in the blasting of rocks on sensing danger abandoned the work and fled.
Mr Asomah-Cheremeh gave an assurance that he would do a follow up at the Minerals Commission to know the details about Skylines’ operations and take the appropriate action.
He warned that persons who flouted the country’s mining laws would not be allowed any space to operate.