Ghana’s military has launched a nationwide operation to clear illegal miners out of its water bodies, the West African country’s lands minister said Wednesday. Two hundred soldiers were deployed on Wednesday morning to lakes, rivers and waterways in the country’s central and western regions to “remove all persons and logistics involved in mining,” a statement said. Pollution from mining has contaminated water sources across the country with mercury and heavy metals, raising the costs of water treatment and limiting access to drinking water, according to Ghana’s water utility agency. Ghana is one of Africa’s largest gold producers, with gold products accounting for just under half its export revenues. Several of the world’s top mining firms, including Newmont, Kinross, and Anglogold Ashanti, operate gold mines there. But more than 35% of the country’s gold is unearthed by small-scale and informal miners, the majority of whom operate illegally, according to the finance ministry. President Nana Akufo-Addo has made combating illegal mining one of his signature issues, repeatedly accusing miners of damaging the country’s water bodies and environment.