Finding an antidote to Ghana’s illegal mining


Ghana’s illegal mining, arguably the most topical issue spanning the past few weeks, has sparked strident public outcry.

The case against the practice is its unprecedented sophisticated nature which has caused massive destruction to the country’s water bodies, forests and farmlands.

Perhaps, the most worrying aspect of illegal mining, popularly called “galamsey” (gather and sell), is the threat it is causing to Ghana’s major rivers like the Pra, Birim, Bia and Ankobra, sparking fears Ghana may have to import drinking water within the next 10 years.

It is no wonder a coalition of media against galamsey has been formed to back government’s action to halt this harmful practice or at least make it conform to fresh government policies and guidelines to restore sanity in small-scale mining.

The impact of illegal or small-scale mining has been felt in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire which Tuesday sent a delegation to Ghana for talks on measures to stem the threat to its water bodies.

The Ivorian delegation Tuesday scheduled a meeting with Ghanaian officials over the rippling effects of illegal mining in Ghana on that country.

Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Benito Owusu-Bio, told the media in the Western regional town of Prestea after touring some mining sites that River Tano and Bia River, which tributaries enter Ivory Coast’s lagoons had polluted that country’s water bodies.

The meeting was therefore arranged to find an amicable solution to the problem.

Following a two-week ultimatum by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources John Peter Amewu, to all illegal miners to halt their activities, more than 540 excavators have been withdrawn from mining sites.

The Minister has also revoked all mining licenses while halting the issuance of new ones to prospective small-scale miners.

The government’s action has received widespread support from chiefs, the media, non-governmental organizations, and other organized bodies, urging the government to take sterner measures to protect and preserve Ghana’s water bodies, forests and farmlands.

The Chief of Prestea-Hemang, Nana Ntaboah Pra IV, says he backs the government’s decision to halt mining in the water bodies, which has destroyed River Ankobra that serves as a source of drinking water for the people.

“We have taken the move to destroy dredgers being used for mining in Ankobra River and even four days to the 2016 general election we burnt eight of them,” he stated.

Nana Pra has subsequently asked Ghanaians not to politicize the government resolve to halt illegal mining in water bodies, while appealing to the main regulatory bodies – Water Resources Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency – to join the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to clamp down on mining in rivers.

Two deputy ministers, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi and Owusu-Bio as well as some officials of the Minerals Commission later visited Wasa Akropong in the Wasa Amenfi East in the Western region to find out the extent of destruction caused by illegal miners. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/

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