A Takoradi Circuit Court has handed three illegal miners 15 years jail sentence each for undertaking small-scale mining without a licence.

The court, which was presided over by Abigail Animah Asare, also charged the three to pay a fine of ¢240,000 each.

The convicts, Joseph Donkor, 40, Joseph Paul, 27, Charles Ewusi; 27, were handed 45 years jail term on two counts of mining without licence and conspiracy to commit a crime.

On February 16, 2021, the convicts were arrested for illegally prospecting for gold in the Cape-3-Point Forest Reserve of the Western Region.

The judgment by Mrs Asare is the first of the many illegal mining cases pending before the judiciary in the Western Region while some of the suspects in custody are assisting police with the investigation.

Mrs Asare in passing her final judgment cautioned persons engaging in the illicit act to desist from the activity.

According to her, she has been lenient in his judgment since the three are first time offenders.

She said it was rather unfortunate that the convicts had to pay the price when the real financiers of the activity, causing havoc to the nation’s environment and water bodies, are out there.

Providing the facts before the court, the Prosecutor of the case, Sergeant Robert Amonoo Yawson, said the Takoradi District Forestry Commission received a report of illegal mining activity.

Due to the level of degradation, the commission’s forest guard and the national response team were deployed to intercept the miners.

Upon seeing the task force, the miners took to their heels, but the three were arrested, and a photograph was taken as evidence.

They were subsequently handed over to the Takoradi Police Command for investigation, where they admitted to the offence.

Sgt. Yawson said that further investigations revealed that the three were mining without licence contrary to Section 99(2) of the Amended Minerals and Mining Act of 2019, Act 995.

As such, in the last few months government through the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry has wage war on the menace to recover the destroyed lands and restore them.

Through the deployment of the military personnel, many have been arrested and are awaiting prosecution.

Moreover, President Akufo-Addo and his appointees have declared their resolve to eradicating the ‘lucrative but problematic’ business.