By Julian Owusu-Abedi
Like the maxim ‘different strokes for different folks’, while there was still a nationwide ban on small scale mining and galamsey activities two years ago, the then -Minister for Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR), Peter John Amewu found it convenient to ignore the government directive and went ahead to sanction one Chinese company, Shaanxi to continue with its illegal operations.
This was at a time when Shaanxi had been accused of trespassing into other people’s concession per Minerals Commission’s own commissioned independent investigation report by a UK company called SRK Consult, thereby giving undue advantage to the Chinese against the other companies who were not working at the time because of the ban.
It was around this period in July 2017 that the Shaanxi’s mine-blast killed seven indigenes at Talensi in the Upper East.
Right at the heels of this accident which claimed seven lives, the then sector Minister Mr. Peter Amewu went up there to commensurate with the deceased family and instead of seizing the opportunity to close down Shaanxi, he suspended their operation for a couple of weeks pending investigations and advised them to come for proper license as was captured in a Daily Graphic report dated August 10, 2017 captioned “Stop the galamsey and Come For Proper License – Amewu Tells Shaanxi”.
In that report the then Minister is quoted to have said that “Shaanxi should not hide behind the concept of providing support services to two small scale mining groups, known as the Yenyeya and Pubortaaba Mining groups, and be engaging in large scale mining activities.”
In spite of all these, while all small scale mining and galamsey activities were still under ban, the Chinese wrote to the Minister on 18th July 2017, weeks after the accident asking him to reopen their mine and shockingly, Mr. Amewu obliged.
In a letter dated August 22, 2017 signed by Chief Director Sulemana Mahama for Minister JP Amewu, it acknowledged receipt of the Chinese request and proceeded to approve their request to carry out general maintenance and for Shaanxi to be reopened.
Shaanxi Ghana Mining Company has since been in operations and just last month their mine-blast killed 17 Ghanaians and no one cares except to institute the regular investigation which never leads anywhere as was the case of the last seven in 2017.
The Upper East Deputy Regional Police Commander DCOP Ayittey’s best reponse has been that the Police are investigating and therefore could not speak on any aspect of the case.