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‘You can only confiscate excavators after illegal miners have been convicted’ – High Court tells government

A Kumasi High Court has noted that Government’s task force checking illegal mining can only confiscate excavators after a court of competent jurisdiction has convicted persons said to have used the equipment for illegal mining.

The court explained that the procedure under law is that seized equipment are placed in police custody.

“It did not lie in the mandate of the inter-ministerial task force to seize equipment. Even if out of over zealousness, the committee task force was minded to have them kept in police custody pending any prosecution of the culprit because the law is that, it is only after the court has convicted the culprit that the court shall proceed to confiscate the machinery and equipment for the state,” Justice Samuel Obeng-Diawuo stated in his judgment.

The ruling is in conection with a case filed by mining company, Heritage Imperial against the Attorney-General, Godfred Dame and the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Jinapor.

In addition, government is to cough up an amount of $15million to the mining company. This is to enable it to buy its equipment unlawfully seized by the state.

An inter-ministerial task force mandated to check illegal mining stormed the company’s site and seized 4 excavators, 25 motorbikes, 12 pickup vehicles, and other gadgets alleging that they were engaged in illegal mining.

The company then dragged the government to court but after the court had heard the evidence, it was told the seized excavators were missing.

The Attorney-General had argued that although the company had been granted a three-year prospecting licence for the Apraprama Forest reserve located within the Amansie West District of the Ashanti Region, it did not obtain the required environmental permit for its prospecting operations.

But the court disagreed stating that the said company had a valid licence to engage in the prospecting it was undertaking.

It, therefore, ordered that the state pays an amount of $15.3 million to the company. The State is also to pay an additional GHC600,000 as general damages and cost.

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