Information reaching Today indicates that the central government through the ministry of environment, science, technology and innovation has moved to dredge all the mineral-bearing water bodies in the country for its rich deposits, starting with the Offin river.
The exercise under the guise of reclamation of polluted river bodies by galamsey operators prior to lifting the ban on all forms of small-scale mining, Today gathered, is to “suck whatever is inside the river out 50 meters wide and 18 meters deep.”
The American company, River Restoration Limited, contracted by the ministry of environment, science, technology and innovation to embark on the pilot project has already anchored a suction dredger on the Offin river at Amaadaa in the Atwima Mponua District of the Ashanti Region.
The only impediment to the commencement of the operation as at now is the delay by the chiefs of the area to perform a ritual to the river deity, Today has gathered.
“Well, what we are trying to show in this pilot project is that, because we do not want to bankrupt the national treasury of Ghana, we are being asked to dig a channel; 50 meters wide and 18 meters deep. The full length of this river,” an expatriate working on the suction dredger said.
“The idea is that, this first dredge will show we can produce enough gold to make the operation self-supporting; the gold will go directly to the government, where they will then purchase a larger dredge; a cut ahead dredge which will begin to really dig deep into the channel and widen it,” 76-year-old Ron, who has been called from retirement to be a mechanic on the project, revealed.
Locals in the area have been told the machine with its accompanying excavators would only desilt the choked water, remove tree stumps to allow fishing boats travel unimpeded on the river but Ron told journalists that “the idea is to reclaim all of this and at the same time to provide capital to the government.”
“I think it will take us 20 years to dredge the full length of this river; that is if we will be able to do perhaps 2 miles in year,” indicating how “very extensive” the operation will be.
“The large dredge will follow the small dredge and actually we hope to have more small dredges so that we can work the entire channel; the gold bearing areas of the channel. We hope by October-November, we will have two dredges working and one cut-ahead behind us to widen the channel, getting all of this out from where the excavator cannot go,” Ron explained further.
According to Ron, if this pilot operation on the Offin River succeeds, similar mining expeditions would be ventured into on rivers like the Prah, Ankobra and “the Birim and Ghana will benefit greatly.”
However, the locals who could only say the project was being embarked upon by Prof Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng under the supervision of the District Chief Executive of the area, Mr.Williams Yaw Darko, asked journalists to ask for any further information from the DCE at his office in Nyinahini.
Meanwhile, Mr Darko confirmed his knowledge of the presence of the said equipment in his jurisdiction but said it was only to desilt the river to prevent flooding of the villages along its banks and that, he honestly does not understand the concept of the whole project.
He said Prof Frimpong-Boateng was expected to address the locals at a town hall meeting at Nyinahin on Tuesday, 4 September, 2018 to explain the whole concept of the project to the chiefs and locals of the area.
Despite the fact that this operation blatantly contravenes Ghana’s mining laws, it was unclear if this expedition was part of the roadmap towards the lifting of the ban on small-scale mining.
It is worth recalling that many galamsey operators have been arrested and prosecuted for engaging in the same activity the government has sought to embark upon now; ravaging the bellies of rivers for gold.