The five Chinese and five Ghanaians illegal miners, who were arrested in March, this year, by the Western Regional Police Command, in the Bamianko corridor of Nzema East Municipality of the Western Region, have been granted bail by a Sekondi High Court.
The five Chinese, Dong Cheng, unemployed, 30, Hung Jian, engineer, 51, Ning Guorui, welder, 42,Yin Bi Quiang, spare parts dealer, 46, Li Zilong, cook/farmer, 44, who were charged for disregarding a directive and obligation imposed under the Immigration Act, pleaded not guilty and were granted a self- cognisance bail.
They were ordered by the Court to deposit their passports with the Court and their photographs and fingerprints to be taken for the records.
The five Ghanaian collaborators, Eric Owusu, carpenter, 28, Kwabena Adjei, small scale miner, 50, Nana Adu Ackah Mensah,farmer,42, Kwasi Owusu, unemployed, 28 and Kofi Darko, driver, 21, who also pleaded not guilty were granted bail to the sum of GHc100,000 each , with a surety each to be justified.
They were charged with conspiracy to conduct illegal mining on River Ankobra and also undertaking small scale mining operations without licence contrary to section 23 of the Criminal Offences Act 1960, Act 29 and section 99 (2) of the Minerals and Mining Act 2006 Act 703, as amended in Act 900 of 2015.
The Court presided over by Justice Edward Amoako Asante, a High Court Judge, has been adjourned to Monday June 19.
Earlier a prosecution witness, Dr Mawuli Lumor, officer in charge of the Ankobra River Basin at Tarkwa, told the Court that the five Chinese and five Ghanaian miners arrested on the Ankobra River had no permit to undertake their activities.
He said his office had not received any application to that effect and described their activities as purely illegal and a destruction to the country’s water bodies.
Dr. Lumor also revealed that the Water Resource Commission (WRC) had not granted permits to the five Chinese and five Ghanaians, charged for illegal mining on River Ankobra, at Bamiankor in the Western Region.
He said under Act 522 of the WRC, all water resources are vested in the government, explaining that his office conducts investigations with its technical team into all applications regarding activities on any water body just like the River Ankobra before any legal and permissible activities could be undertaken.
“As far as I am concerned, they have not been permitted to mine in the Ankobra Basin. I have been working as the Basin Officer since 2007 and I can loudly say that no application has been received either from these miners or their partners,” he added.
Dr. Lumor under cross- examination by counsel for the Chinese and four Ghanaians, Constantine Kudjordzi, submitted that dredging or diverting of a water course, was allowed, but, should be done under technical supervision and by law as stipulated under the Water Act.
“Under the Act, you should have a permit, we have not received such a letter from them, we do not grant permits for people to mine in rivers. It is purely illegal.” Dr Lumor stressed.