Some chiefs in mining communities are illegitimately issuing mining licences to foreigners to undertake “galamsey” mining.
They include Chinese, Malians and Burkinabe who are said to be heavily armed and difficult to control.
Ms. Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, who disclosed this at the review policy meeting of the environmental and natural resources sector here on Monday said the activities of the illegal miners posed a threat to national security and called the National House of Chiefs to assist government to deal with the situation.
The meeting, on the theme: ‘promoting good governance in mining, forestry and environmental management; gave a platform for major stakeholders to discuss critical and emerging issues in the sector and chart the way forward.
Commenting on the issue, Alhaji Collins Dauda, Ministers of Lands and Natural Resources told Times that, surface mining is reserved for Ghanaians and it is therefore illegal for foreigners to be granted license for it.
He warned that chiefs and other stakeholders in the mining sector who arrogate themselves the right to grant mining license, would be prosecuted.
He said the Minerals and Mining Act vests in the Minister of lands and Natural Resources the sole right to grant mining license.
He said because of its potential social-economic benefits to the country, government is supportive of the small-scale mining industry and it has over the years taken steps to encourage small-scale miners to operate in an economically and environmentally suitable manner.
Alhaji Dauda said despite all the support from government it was a matter of concern that the activities of illegal miners are on the increase.
“The increasing incidence of illegal mining, in addition to the destruction of land, pollution and siltation of water bodies, has become a major concern to all,” he noted.
Alhaji Dauda said his provided fund for a joint military/police task force, to move around the country to clamp down on illegal mining activities.
He appealed to the public to provide information on illegal mining activities in their localities to help the task force to track down the illegal miners.