The Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on illegal mining has arrested 15 Chinese nationals in a dawn raid.
The swoop on Tuesday was targeted at illegal miners degrading the Kutukrom forest close to Prestea in the Western Region.
Eleven excavators were seized on the site deep within the forest.
At least 25,000 acres of forest have been destroyed by the activities of the illegal miners, according to the Taskforce.
Tuesday’s raid is the tenth of such operation on illegal miners pillaging of the country's forests in search of gold.
Authorities estimate that a total of about 50,000 acres of forest have been destroyed at Diaso-Sraha forest also in the Western Region by illegal miners.
Also, the huge destruction of the Apamprama forest reserve by Heritage Imperial Mining Limited, the illegal invasion of the Ankwaso forest, are a few of the destruction the Taskforce has identified.
The leader of the Taskforce, Ekow Ayisi, told Luv News that some of the illegal miners hide under the guise of prospecting and acquire entry permits from the Forestry Commission but later begin active, full-scale mining on the blind side of the Commission.
He explained that most of the illegal mining activities are carried out under the watchful eyes of forest guards.
"The Chinese nationals we arrested Kutukrom have no mining documents, they had nothing," he said.
"Is the Forestry Commission aware of the consistent invasion of the forest? What are they doing about it?" he was baffled.
Documents from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reveal that the Forestry Commission has granted individuals and small scale miners entry permits to mine in 47 forest reserves across the country as at the end of 2018.
The list of forest that the Commission has granted entry permits include Kwamisa Forest, Krokosua Hill, and the Asenanyo forest reserves in Offinso, Juaboso and Nyinahin-Nkawie respectively in the Ashanti Region, leased to Almingo Mining Resource Limited, Bia-Tawya forest at Juaboso in the Western Region given to Armsfeild Company Limited, Oda River in Bekwai-Ashanti leased to Kingsperp mining company limited, Apamprama Forest reserve Bekwai leased to Heritage Imperial Company Limited until 2021.
Some of these forests have already been destroyed.
The Inter-Ministerial Taskforce says some miners no longer go in for requisite licenses but are engaged in full-scale mining deep within the forests with just an entry permit from the Forestry Commission.
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