Ghana has been hit hard by illegal mining because of the wanton destruction of our environment that comes with the illegal practice.
Indeed, apart from the destruction of our water bodies and farmlands, our very lives are at stake.
Researches have shown that most places where mining has been conducted irresponsibly have become polluted by mercury, arsenic, lead and cadmium.
The Daily Graphic believes that one of the reasons there is a high incidence of cancer among the people now is that there is pollution of our farmlands in places such as Obuasi, Tarkwa, Akwatia and other mining areas.
What happened to the much loved Obuasi oranges because of their sweetness? We cannot find them any longer on our markets because the trees that bore them have been killed as a result of ‘galamsey’.
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Rural folk are usually at the receiving end when land and river bodies are destroyed as a result of people’s desire to amass wealth from minerals, to the detriment of the environment and the people who live and depend on the land.
It is by reason of the wanton destruction of our environment and what it portends for our very existence that a media coalition was formed to champion the fight against illegal mining.
It is also to stop the continuous destruction and our future as a country that the government placed a ban on artisanal mining.
Unfortunately, as is always the case when a major policy is introduced to bring sanity into a sector, many Ghanaians have tended to politicise the action taken by the government.
However, it doesn’t need any research to note the havoc that illegal mining has wreaked on the country. Many of our water bodies which are the source of water for the Ghana Water Company have been rendered untreatable in the past few years because of their high degree of pollution and siltation.
That is why it is necessary for all Ghanaians to see the fight against illegal mining by the media and the government as an attempt to sanitise the environment and the life of the citizenry. We are in no doubt that the fight will adversely affect the livelihoods of some people, but the general benefits to the nation far outweigh any other consideration.
The Daily Graphic, nonetheless, urges the government not to relent in its efforts to ensure alternative livelihoods for those engaged in ‘galamsey’ but who cannot work because of the ban.
Some of the illegal miners interviewed said they were into the practice in order to make ends meet, as they did not have any other source of livelihood.
Some of them know the dangers associated with the venture, as some of their colleagues have died from pit cave-ins.
Yet others are oblivious of the consequences of their actions, not only on their local communities but the country and even other countries such as Cote d’Ivoire, which has complained to Ghana that ‘galamsey’ activities have destroyed some common water bodies we share.
We need to commend the security personnel who have made the Operation Vanguard launched by the government very successful.
We must go further to support their work and expose all those engaged in the outlawed illegal mining because the total eradication of the practice will inure to the benefit of the whole country.