The government has indicated that its fight against illegal mining (galamsey) is aimed at preserving human health and protecting the environment rather than destroying the livelihood of people.
“It must be appreciated that the fight against galamsey is also about the preservation of human health and that of the entire biosphere.
“Ghanaians should encourage themselves to strictly adhere to our collective environmental policy, which is designed to improve the surroundings, living conditions and the quality of life of the entire citizenry, for both present and future generations,’’ a statement signed by the Minister of Information, Dr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, said.
The statement therefore assured the public that the government would act responsibly to ensure that human lives and the environment were protected in the ongoing fight against galamsey.
Dangers of galamsey
According to the minister, scientific studies showed that, small–scale mining exposed mining communities to toxic metals such as mercury, arsenic, lead and cadmium.
“These toxic metals contaminate our water, soil, sediment and food. In the process, inorganic mercury is also released into the air.
“Mercury pollution has been observed in Tarkwa, Obuasi and also in Talensi and Nabdam in the Upper East Region. Mercury vapour, when inhaled, may lead to acute poisoning that can cause dizziness, headaches, vomiting, memory and speech loss, convulsion and in some cases, death,’’ he said.
The minister added that some of those toxic metals could result in cancerous conditions leading to death.
“Cadmium can cause severe kidney damage and acute gastroenteritis, as well as cancers of the lung, nasal septum and the skin. It is fatal at high doses. In actual fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies cadmium as a class one cancer-causing agent, and it has been linked to cancers of the pancreas, prostate and lungs among other effects,’’ he stated.
Following the widespread devastation of water resources and forest reserves as a result of the activities of illegal mining in the country, the government, in January 2017, placed a ban on small scale mining for a period of six months.
The ban was however extended in October 2017, for another three months, which ended in January 2018.
In March, 2018, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, again extended the ban, with an explanation that the targets had not been met.
But continuous extension of the ban has angered the Small –Scale Miners association of Ghana, who have accused the government of deliberately setting out to destroy their businesses.