The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, on Wednesday said 500 excavators have, so far, been retrieved from mining sites with 1,148 dredges taken from major rivers in the country.
He said the Ministry would collaborate with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Innovation and Technology, to establish a desk to combat illicit mining and crack the whip on anyone involved.
Mr Amewu said this when he toured some mining sites in the Upper West Akyem Municipality, Atiwa East and Denkyemboar districts in the Eastern Region.
The tour followed a three-week ultimatum the Minister gave to illegal miners to evacuate their machines and leave all mining sites. The ultimatum expired on Tuesday, April 18.
The team, comprising officials of the Minerals Commission as well as some police personnel, visited communities including Akenten, Pianaman, Moseaso and Kubriso.
Some illegal miners who were working on some concessions left the site upon seeing the team.
There were excavators abandoned at the mining sites while others were packed in front of houses.
The Minister called on the Environmental Protection Agency to collaborate with the Minerals Commission in monitoring the various miming sites to ensure licensed mining firms reclaimed the lands concurrently while mining went on.
He said there was the need for a sustained fight against illegal mining and called for collective efforts by all stakeholders including the traditional authorities, land owners, the media, civil society organisations and politicians to help stop the practice.
Mr Amewu gave the assurance that the Government would sustain the fight for the next five years.
Dr Tony Aubynn, the Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission, said the key stakeholders supposed to combat the menace had been complicit and, therefore, called for collaborative efforts to deal decisively with the challenge.
Illegal mining, otherwise known as galamsey, had degraded the environment and polluted water bodies all over the country.
The Abontendomhene of Kyebi, Nana Boakye Dankwa, who later received the Minister and his entourage, charged the Government to sustain the fight against illegal mining and prosecute persons involved.
He said illegal mining had destroyed their water bodies and vegetations and urged the Government to stop a mining firm, Extra Gold, from operating in the area since its activities had destroyed the environment.