Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Peter Amewu, has caused the arrest of four expatriates operating an illegal gold mine at Tontokrom in the Amansie West District of the Ashanti Region.

The mining company, Geo Professional Services (GPS), which flouted a May 17, 2017 directive by the Lands Commission, has been shut down by the minister.

“Your license is for small scale mining, which is the preserve of Ghanaian nationals. In effect, what you are doing is illegal.

“See what you have done to the environment. You can’t do this in your country. And I want you to stop work immediately,” Mr Amewu ordered.

The four top managers of the company – Coemwotit Putats and Chepainyi Serchii – all Ukrainians – Farid Issaer, a Russian and one other person, are to be sent to Accra for prosecution.

Owned and run by Russians and Ukrainians, the company was mining on concessions fronted by three Ghanaian companies – Kasmil Mining Company Limited, K. Afriyie and Sons Precious Metal Company and King Solomon Mining Company.

Each of the three companies secured licences for 25 acres of land from the Lands Commission but according to the residents, GPS has been operating over 500 acres of land for the past 25 years and causing a lot of devastation in the area.

Their activities have depleted the entire area, and destroyed four rivers that have been sources of drinking water at Tontokrom.

Residents claim police and military personnel deployed to guard the mine assault them whenever they challenged the ‘galamseyers’ on the illegality.

At the time of the minister’s visit to the area on Monday, five police personnel, led by one Corporal Dorzie Peter and some military personnel were guarding the facility.

They claimed their commander, one Ameyaw from the SWAT Unit at the Central Police in Kumasi, deployed them to guard the mining company.