The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Friday launched an initiative that seeks to minimise the risk of using chemicals, especially mercury, in mining activities in the small scale mining sector.
Christened the “Global Environment Facility (GEF) PlanetGold Plus Project,” it will implement key activities such as enhancing uptake of Mercury-free technologies to protect nature.
It would also formalise the Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) and ensure financial inclusion and responsible supply chain over the next five years.
Dr Henry Kwabena Kokofu, the Executive Director, EPA, who launched the project in Accra, said Ghana was selected among seven other African countries to benefit from the second phase of the Global Opportunities for Long-term development in Artisanal and Small-scale Gold mining programme.
The about six million dollar project would be implemented by the EPA together with partners including the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP).
Dr Kokofu said the project would help Ghana to fulfill international commitments including the 2030 Global Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) and Minamata Convention on Mercury.
The Minamata Initial Assessment (MIA) identified five national priority areas for the effective implementation of the convention in Ghana.
This include the need to reduce and where feasible, eliminate the use of mercury and mercury compounds, reduce emissions and releases of mercury and manage mercury waste in an environmentally-sound manner to eliminate exposure to humans and the environment.
Madam Lydia Obenewa Essuah, the Director in-charge of Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation of the Ministry of Environment, Science Technology and Innovation, called on the advancement of the small-scale mining sector into a formal sector with an ensured access to finance.
Madam Angela Lusigi, a representative of UNDP in Ghana, said it was important to improve the small-scale sector, which employed over one million Ghanaians.
“One thing this project does is to be able to support the formalisation of the sector, which means that miners will now have access to financing green technology 1to produce gold in ways that do not harm their health and environment,” she noted.
Mr Oluyomi Banjo, National Programme Coordinator, Environment and Energy
UNIDO Regional Hub, said Gold mining in Ghana supported an estimated 4.5 million people and about 90 per cent of all ASM activities.
He said the effective implementation of the project would safeguard the environment, especially around the mining communities, and also contribute to Ghana’s global trade in gold.
Mercury is commonly used in small-scale gold mining to separate gold from other minerals due to its ability to bind to gold and form amalgam, which is used for dental fillings.