Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abdulai Jinapor

Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Samuel Abdulai Jinapor has revealed the activities of Operation Vanguard task force have been suspended by government until further notice.

Speaking at a press briefing Tuesday on Ghana’s fight against illegal mining also known as ‘galamsey’, Mr Jinapor noted that the decision to halt Operation Vanguard was taken by a committee consisting of himself, Minister for Information, National Security, Interior and Defense.

“Activities and operations of Operation Vanguard has been suspended for the time being. Operation Vanguard is no more in operation as we speak. We had a meeting.. myself, the Minister for National Security, Minister for Interior, Defense and Information. The Committee that the President has put together to spear head this effort, we came to a firm conclusion that the activities or operations of Vanguard are to cease,” he stated.

His comments follow concerns by some small scale miners of being harassed by some unknown task forces who claim to side with the government in its quest to vanquish ‘galamsey’.

But according to the Lands Minister, neither has his outfit nor the Ministry for Defense or any other assigned any task force aside the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) the responsibility to seize and destroy mining equipment of small scale miners who breach government’s directives.

“I want to make it very clear that task forces which are moving about the country harassing small scale miners, whether they are involved in legal or illegal mining, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has not mandated the operation of any task forces.

“All other task forces continue to remain disbanded. There are no such task forces anywhere,” he said.

Mr Samuel Jinapor, however, reiterated that the military is the only body that has been authorized to assist government in its fight against illegal mining.

He further indicated that the military is currently embarking on “Operation Halt 2” to assist government to rid the country of illegal mining. The sites noted to have military presence he says are forest reserves and water bodies.

The Operation Vanguard 17 Taskforce in April destroyed some 56 Changfang motors at Amantin in the Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipality during its routine patrol duty.

So far, 357 Changfan motors have been destroyed by the task force to clamp down illegal mining.

Meanwhile, the Lands Minister has refuted claims that the incumbent government is against mining in the country.

According to him, government is poised to ensure mining processes and regulations are strictly adhered to, to protect the environment and not to see miners at a disadvantage.

“The government of President Akufo-Addo is not against mining. We are not against small scale mining. On the contrary, we are working to regulate, sanitize and promote a viable and sustainable small scale mining which has regard to the preservation of the environment of our country,” he stated.