Promoting responsible mining: Gold Kacha to reach 120,000 miners this year
The move by the government to promote responsible and sustainable small-scale mining through the use of modern technology is making a positive impact.
The intervention has compelled more than 30,000 small-scale miners to switch from the crude practice of using mercury and other toxic chemicals to extract gold to the use of mercury-free mining machines.
This follows the distribution of 60 mercury-free machines, known as ‘gold kacha’, to the miners under the Community Mining Scheme (CMS).
The number of beneficiaries is expected to reach 120,000 by the end of the year when the machines are doubled to 120 across CMS areas.
In his message on the State of the Nation to Parliament on Wednesday, March 8, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said so far, 16 of the mining schemes which relied on the mercury-free machines to process and extract gold had been commissioned.
The President said three more CMSs would be commissioned by the end of this year.
“All these schemes are supported with gold ‘kachas’, pieces of equipment designed to help small-scale miners to extract gold from the ore without the use of mercury," he said.
He added that the government would create more CMSs as part of measures to fight against illegal mining, popularly called galamsey.
The President said the CMS concept was a viable means of promoting responsible small-scale mining.
With a high gold recovery rate of 90 per cent, compared with the other methods that do between 30 and 35 per cent of gold recovery, the new technology has been identified as a major step towards curing the ills associated with artisanal small-scale mining.
The gold ‘kacha’ machines were unveiled by President Akufo-Addo in June last year and they are meant to promote sustainable mining in the artisanal small-scale mining sector.
The intervention is also meant to do away with the harmful effects of the use of mercury and other toxic procedures for gold production.
Barely eight months after the government had rolled out the policy, small-scale miners in some mining regions, such as Eastern, Ashanti, Western, Northern and Upper East, have adopted the innovation.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Commodity Monitor, Stephen Yeboah, the local supplier of the gold ‘kacha’, said 60 of the machines had been distributed to small-scale miners across the country, benefitting 30,000 people.
"One gold ‘kacha’ machine can serve 5,000 people, and this is very suitable for the CMSs being inaugurated by the government. What we need to let the beneficiaries know is that with the use of this improved mining technology, they can extract gold without destroying the environment," Mr Yeboah said.
He added that most of the legal small-scale miners who had access to the gold ‘kacha’ machines had abandoned the use of toxic substances for mining.
He said apart from recording 90 per cent gold recovery, the use of the machine meant that the beneficiaries no longer used toxic chemicals to pollute water bodies through their operations.
He told the Daily Graphic that 120 gold ‘kacha’ machines were expected to be distributed to small-scale miners by the end of the year.
"The deployment of the 120 machines will increase the number of beneficiaries from 30,000 to at least 120,000 by the end of the year. This is a great technology and we need to sustain it," he said.
To consolidate the gains, Mr Yeboah called on the government to ramp up efforts at ensuring that more machines were deployed to all small-scale miners across the country.
Touching on the CMS, Mr Yeboah said the communal approach adopted by the CMS initiative would be appropriate for the use of gold ‘kacha’ machines.
He added that the machine was the magic wand for the small-scale mining sector because it had no adverse effects on the environment and also gave a higher gold recovery rate.
"It helps protect the environment from destruction; the pollution of water bodies such as the Offin, Pra and Ankobra will be addressed; health threats will be curtailed, while more gold will be recovered," he said.
He said the company was working with some of the small-scale miners on how to operate the machines to achieve maximum results.
Touching on how the company was strategising to help sanitise the small-scale mining sector, Mr Yeboah said plans were advanced to begin the production of the gold ‘kacha’ machines locally.
"Within the year, some parts of the machine will be manufactured in the country. The target is that in the next three years, we should do 100 per cent manufacturing of the gold kacha in Ghana," he said.
He said apart from promoting sustainable mining, the manufacturing of the machines in the country would create jobs along the mining value chain and contribute significantly to the local economy.
He observed that while more attention was being given to the use of technology to promote sustainable mining, it was equally important for all stakeholders to work as a unit to clamp down on the activities of recalcitrant illegal miners.