Tension is high among mining groups in Gbani in the Upper East region after some 17 illegal miners died from breathing difficulties following a mine blast on Wednesday.
Three mining groups, Bantama, Porbataba and Yenyeya are said to be blaming each other of encroaching on their concessions, when Lands Minister, Asumah Kyeremeh and his deputy, Benito Owusu Bio, led a delegation from the Ministry to the area Thursday.
In another breadth, Ghanaian-owned Unique Mining Company is also claiming that a Chinese-owned firm, Shaanxi Mining Company, has been intruding its territory unlawfully.
The Ghanaian company suspects their Asian counterpart is enjoying some preferential treatment from the government.
oy News’ Latif Idrissu who was with the Minister’s entourage, reported that the three groups were engaged in illegal mining in the area but Porbataba and Yenyeya later secured a permit to do small scale mining.
The third group, Bantama – whose owner Kwasi Appiah is in the grip of the police following the blast – is now known to be the ones operating illegally in the area, the reporter told Evans Mensah on Top Story.
According to reports, the illegal miners dug a tunnel in the residence of Mr. Appiah, through which they go underground and mine the concessions of the other companies.
Luck, however, eluded them on Wednesday when they went into the belly of the earth illegally, about two hours after Shaanxi carried out a blast on their concession.
The plume trapped the ‘galamseyers’ as they are locally known, causing some of them to die as a result of breathing difficulties.
At least some 17 persons have lost their lives as of Thursday while some are said to be in a critical condition receiving treatment at the regional hospital in Bolgatanga.
Following the tragedy, members of the local mining group who believe the blast was targeted at their colleagues are unhappy with the situation, which is creating a tensed atmosphere there.
But interacting with the miners, Mr. Kyeremeh called for cool heads to prevail while announcing the deployment of a technical team from the Minerals Commission to thoroughly investigate the issues.
“Indeed we have [a team from] the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission who would come after this visit to ascertain the situation, investigate it and give us the report…”