The Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) has arrested 43 foreign nationals engaged in illegal mining activities, also known as “galamsey”, in restricted forest reserves of the country’s Northern Region.
The mainly ECOWAS nationals were among 45 illegal miners busted earlier this week by the GIS Intelligence group in a swoop at the Bole district in the Northern Region.
According to GIS officials, 43 out of the miners were identified as foreign ECOWAS nationals who had entered the country through unapproved routes, and had no residence or business permits.
The Assistant Director of Immigration in the Northern Region, Eric Afari, told the B&FT that miners consisted of 18 Guineans, 22 Malians and three Burkinabes.
He said the service has commenced investigations to apprehend some other Ghanaians who assisted the expatriates to carry out their nefarious activities.
“We retrieved all kinds of gold detecting digging tools used to destroy the land without permission.
“Our investigation also revealed that they came through an unapproved route at Hamle, in the Upper West Region and its surroundings.
“These foreigners have been helped by some of the inhabitants for a fee,” he said.
It has been observed that income from “galamsey” surpasses many legitimate activities -- luring many people, particularly the youth, into the trade as their main source of livelihood. This illegal search for precious metals has also attracted a large number of foreign nationals, notably the Chinese -- who faced a government crackdown over the past year.
Mr. Afari said logistical support is hampering efforts of the GIS in policing the country’s porous borders, which allow many people to come into the country and carry out illegal activities.