Twelve out of the 17 large-scale mines in the country do not have functional water treatment facilities.
This has resulted in the improper treatment of contaminated water before discharge at the mines, putting the lives of people in the mining communities in danger.
Consequently, the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, has tasked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure the implementation of new water treatment technologies at the mines to protect mining communities from contracting any disasters.
The directive, a copy of which was made available to the Daily Graphic mentioned only five companies as currently operating functional water treatment facilities. They are the Golden Star Bogoso, Prestea Limited, AngloGold Ashanti Obuasi and Iduapiriem, and Adamus Resources Limited.
The use of water in mining has the potential of affecting the quality of water sources in nearby communities.
The directive, signed by the sector minister, Mr Mahama Ayariga, expressed concern over the alarming levels of polluted water at some of the mines.
“Some of the mines have over the years, accumulated large quantities of polluted water with varying degrees of contaminants that are very dangerous to humans and other plants and animal species if untreated and allowed to contaminate the natural environment,” it said.
The statement further indicated the results of extensive studies undertaken by some research scientists in the country which has revealed unacceptable levels of contamination of the soils and river bodies in mining communities.
They were contaminated with heavy metals like mercury, arsenic and chromium. “These metals in several ways directly impact the health of people who use these water bodies and also feed on crops grown on such soils,” it said
The minister said he had met with the relevant institutions including the EPA, the Chamber of Mines and the Water Research Institute (WRI) on the implementation of best technologies for compulsory water and brine treatment by the mines.
Following a report submitted by experts, the ministry directed the EPA to undertake some activities regarding mine wastewater and brine treatment technologies.
One of the directives to the EPA was that, mining companies that were yet to commence treatment on the quality of contaminated water would use the coagulation and reverse osmosis technology provided by a company called P2W Limited, and the N2 Media Absorption Technology provided by QEC Limited.
The directive further said, “the EPA shall engage the mines and the technology providers to conclude on the pricing of the water and brine treatment plants and operations costs within 14 days of the issuance of the directive, and the EPA, WRI and the various mines shall be jointly responsible for the supervision of the technology and services provided.”