Illegal Mining and the Environment – Ghana

“There is thy gold, worse poison to men’s souls,

Doing more murder in this loathsome world,

Than these poor compounds that thou mayst not sell.”

– William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Adorning oneself with jewelry especially gold has been consistent across religions, cultures, class and gender. Unquestionably humans have a need for jewelry, but what precisely is this need?

Jewelry has served as a store of value to be converted to cash in times of need.Many individuals, institutions and countries across the world hold investments in gold bullion as financial backing.

Mining involves the activity, occupation and industry concerned with the extraction of minerals from the earth.

From electronic manufacturing companies to dental rooms gold and other precious metals are being used for various purposes. Gold has a positive impact on a nation’s GDP and it also create job opportunities for the community.In Ghana,the Mining industry accounts for 5% of the country’s GDP and minerals takes up 37% of the total export with gold accounting for 90% of the mineral export. Ghana is the second largest gold producer in Africa.

Notwithstanding the fact that the mining sector contributes to government revenue it also has serious negative impact on the environment and to miners.

The illegal mining sector in Ghana is plagued by several environmental and health problems. Several accidents have occurred and in some cases this has led to fatalities in the mines. In April 2013, at least 17 people were killed while mining illegally at a disused gold mine in Ghana’s central region. The ground caved in on the miners as they searched for gold deposits.

Another serious impact is the health hazards as a result of pollution from gases, noise, dust and polluted water.

Coal mines release methane which can pollute the air.Sulphuric acid are utilized in the mining operations which drain into the water bodies, and adversely affect ground water

The movements of rock in the case of surface mining impact the land negatively. Craters are left in the areas where mining activities took place, destroying landscape and lush vegetation in the process.Deforestation is resulting in changes in the ecosystem which includes increasing the levels of Carbon Dioxide in the air.

Leakage of Chemicals into the environment adversely affects the health of the local population, if not controlled.

In summary mining has a negative impact on the environment including erosion, formation of sinkholes, loss of biodiversity, contamination of soil, groundwater and surface water.












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