Illegal miners invade Bui Dam site

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Construction site of the Bui Dam credit: Bui Power Authority

Illegal miners (galamsey operators) have invaded the Bui Hydroelectric Dam project area under construction in the newly created Banda District in the Brong Ahafo Region to mine alluvia gold.

The illegal operators have taken advantage of  works being carried out on the dam to mine gold in the river bed of the Black Volta.

One of the spillways of the dam has been blocked for some construction works to be carried out at the dam site, resulting in the drying up of the water in that area.

The illegal miners who were busily mining on the river bed site took to their heels when participants in the ongoing 2012 Environmental and Natural Resources Summit being held in Sunyani paid a surprise visit to the project area.

The field trip formed part of the five-day summit being held on the theme: “Illegal Mining and Our Environment” being organised by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Forestry Commission (FC) and  the Minerals Commission under the auspices of the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST)  and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.

Mr Chrisentus Kuunifaa, an Environmental Officer of the Bui Power Authority (BPA), who conducted the group around the project site, told newsmen that the authority had contained illegal mining activities in the area.

According to him, the BPA, in collaboration with the Game and Wildlife Officials at the Bui National Park, launched an operation and succeeded in confiscating some of the equipment of the illegal miners who had invaded the area.

He explained that because of the ongoing works at the dam site, one of the spillways of the dam had been blocked leading to the drying up of the water table of the river.

Mr Kuunifaa said the works had successfully been carried out and the spillway would be opened for water to fill the river bed once again.

“Such a development would make it impossible for the illegal miners to carry out their activities,”  he said.

Currently, concrete works are being carried out on the dam for the installation of one of the three turbines (electro mechanical works) on the dam.

When completed the dam would run on three turbines to generate 400 megawatts of power for the national grid.

A reservoir has also been built in such a way to allow for fishing upstream.

Meanwhile, the BPA has put in place a comprehensive fisheries management plan to enhance the stocks in the area and provide a source of livelihood for the people in the area.

Source: Daily Graphic