Adopt GGT approach to achieving sustainable mining – Geoscientist

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Science Mining Proposal
Science Mining Proposal

Professor Emmanuel Arhin, a Geoscientist, has proposed the adoption of Green Gold Transitions (GGT) as a means to achieving sustainable mining operations.

The GGT embraces biogeochemical methods in addition to the traditional exploration protocols for mining purposes.

Prof. Arhin, the Dean of the School of Geoscience, University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), said GGT was the act of getting gold out of the ground in a “green or eco-friendly” and sustainable way without bringing hardships to the local communities.

These hardships occur through pollution of water and air, loss of grazing and agricultural land, creation of unprotected mining pits, destruction and depletion of forest lands as well as forced eviction and relocation of communities without fair compensation.

Prof. Arhin made the proposal in his second professorial inaugural lecture, on the topic: ”Myths and Realities of Artisanal Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) in Ghana: The Green Gold Transition” at the University’s campus in Sunyani.

He said the ASGM had grown and continued to grow, and its significant contribution to wealth creation, employment and the economy made it one of the nation’s most important livelihood activities.

It provides direct employment to an estimated 1,000,000 people and supported approximately 4.5 million more.

The operations of artisanal small-scale miners were referred to as low-tech labour-intensive mineral processing and extraction, Prof Arhin said.

”In 2011, the sector’s contribution to total merchandise exports was GhC5.034 million while total Foreign Direct Investment into the minerals and mining sector from 1984-2011 amounted to US$11.5 billion according to Minerals Commission”, he said.

Information available at Precious Minerals Marketing Company indicates the sub-sector contributed US$1.3 billion to GDP in 2022.

Small-scale mining had evolved from using rudimentary equipment such as shovels, pickaxes and sluice boards to the current semi-mechanised/mechanised operations involving the use of excavators, bulldozers and washing plants, the Geoscientist said.

The Minerals and Mining Act 2006 (Act703) says the duration of a small-scale mining license was five years and renewable upon satisfactory performance during the first term.

Prof Arhin said the Act needed an immediate review, because its operational methods demanded change in the legal framework, saying the ASGM operators must do systematic geological exploration to reflect the law that granted them the licenses.

That would then serve as a guide to ASGM operators to mine responsibly to leave a positive legacy for future generations, while safeguarding the environmental integrity of the ecosystem.

He urged ASGM operators to do exploration using systematic geological methods, follow the scout prospecting steps, initial (wide space) systematic and detailed (close) exploration and deposit evaluation.

Though some ASGMs were adopting those approaches, most of them were not because the law did not make a provision in the license acquisition to that effect.

Prof Arhin indicated that that could become reality if the size of the concession was included, where 10 or more of them could form a conglomerate and get a geologist to assist in the exploration of the concession and plan how to extract the mineral.

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