Gold Menace: Illegal Mining and its Financial Impact on the economy

illegal mining
A group of Galamseyers, illegal gold panners, work in Kibi area on April 10, 2017. - These groups can range from 50 men to small ones of 5. Most of the work is done by hand or simple machinery as excavators and filters made of old carpets. (Photo by CRISTINA ALDEHUELA / AFP) (Photo by CRISTINA ALDEHUELA/AFP via Getty Images)

Introduction about Topic:

Mining has played an important role in Ghana’s development. Like all industries, mining has both benefits and risks for the people who live in the communities where the minerals are found. The way the government, nearby neighborhoods, and mining companies deal with these health and environmental impacts can make the lives of residents worse or better. The current analysis focuses on the ecological and health effects of mining in Ghana. It combines existing data from the literature and recent findings from co-authors on the causes, status, trends, and consequences of mining in Ghana. The work assesses data on mining’s environmental and health impacts, such as pollution of water bodies, degradation of forest resources, soil nutrient depletion, destruction of wildlife habitats, and declining quality and threats to human health.

Mineral Wealth:

Mineral abundance is a significant resource that can be utilized to animate or upgrade financial development and invigorate framework improvement, including schools, emergency clinics, and street organizations. Mining has assumed a significant part in the advancement of Ghana, which positions second in gold creation on the African mainland after South Africa. Ghana is additionally enriched with rich mineral assets. It was recently called the Gold Coast due to the enormous gold stores in the southern spaces of Obuasi, Tarkwa, and Prestea. Known as Ghana after freedom in 1957, the mining of gold and different assets contributes to the monetary turn of events. Digging represents about 9.1% of Ghana’s total national output (Gross domestic product) and utilizes almost 300,000 individuals who are being used by digging for the financial improvement of Ghana; the adverse consequence of mining exercises is expanding. One examination contended that “mining to date has a helpless history as far as adding to environmental turn of events, with few networks showing critical advantages and mining locales encountering long haul adverse consequences.” 

As of late, many mining organizations have made strides to moderate their past moves by creating extensive effect evaluation studies and ways to deal with address the antagonistic effects of mining and adding to foundation advancement. Most mining networks in Ghana have confronted air and water contamination and different types of natural corruption because of mining measures. The more significant part of the occupants of mining networks is ruined and live in rustic zones where fundamental assets, for example, wellbeing administrations and clean water, are deficient.

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There is evidence of gold mining in Ghana from the 7th and 8th centuries AD as gold supplies drew Arab traders. These activities were strategically located along rivers where sediment was continuously washed away, presumably with gold deposits. Separate the golden grains. This has been a source of wealth for these mining communities and individuals. Over time, it was revealed that there are deposits of iron, limestone, kaolinite, and other clay minerals in some amounts. However, gold was the most critical mineral extracted and represents 90% of the minerals extracted.

Although Ghana’s economy was primarily based on agriculture, many small-scale “galamsey” miners thrived and depended on the extraction and smuggling of these minerals for sale from the country for their livelihoods. These individuals were primarily trying to promote their economic benefits without regard to their actions’ negative social, political, or environmental consequences. Differences in the mode of mining, the legality of the operation, the amount mined, and the volumes extracted divide the mining area of ​​Ghana into two main approaches: large-scale legal mining and small-scale illegal “galamsey” mining. Small-scale mining is carried out on an individual level, mainly by the poor with very little technical knowledge or machinery. In comparison, another 80 to 100 million people depend now or indirectly on producing these activities for their survival. Most of these people are not by choice but by necessity. Small-scale mining is viewed from different perspectives by different groups of people and countries. Small-scale mining is defined by the International Labor Organization as less intensive and operated with basic or low-rise machinery.

In Ghana, small-scale mining involves “the extraction of gold using a technique that does not incur a substantial cost by any part of an individual or group of no more than nine people or by a solidarity society consisting of ten or more people.”

Economic impacts:

When all mining activities in Africa and Asia are included, there are perhaps six million artisanal miners worldwide.  In Ghana, the mining sector accounts for 41% of the country’s foreign exchange and is the primary generator of foreign exchange. Gold now accounts for more than US $ 600 million and 90% of all mineral productivity per year and has replaced cocoa as the primary source of foreign exchange in Ghana.

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Increased investment in the mining sector as a result of Ghana’s economic reforms has several benefits. Mining is the primary source of foreign exchange in the country and provides a large amount of government revenue, a source of income and social infrastructure for the population, creates direct and indirect employment, and contributes to community development in mining areas.

Health Impacts:

According to Ahern and Stephens, mining remains one of the world’s most dangerous professions, both in short-term injuries and loss of life and long-term consequences such as cancer and respiratory diseases, including silicosis and asbestosis, and pneumoconiosis.

Disaster struck the people of Dunkwa-on-Offin in the central region, where countless people were buried in a “galamsey” shaft when it collapsed near the Ofin River. In that one disaster, more than 100 miners were killed. Reports indicated that about 136 “galamsey” operators worked in the well when the incident occurred on June 27, 2010. 

The Ghanaian Times reported an increase in the incidence of kidney disease. According to Dr. Amoako Atta (head of the kidney department at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital), mercury by illegal miners contributes to this. The inorganic form of the metal is washed or evaporated in rivers. Accessible in the atmosphere. Mercury levels found in fish were three times higher than the levels considered safe by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). Chemicals in the river can also be harmful to the skin and the entire human body. Mercury affects the kidney system, nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, and respiratory tract. A report estimates that 5 tons of mercury are released every year from small-scale mining operations in Ghana.

A study in five selected communities (Sanso, Anyinam, Anyinamadokrom, Abombe, and Tutuka, in Obuasi Municipality) of mining activities close to AngloGold Ashanti’s operations and their impact on health found residents to suffer from Malaria, skin conditions, diarrhea, and fever, cold and cold. 

Malaria was responsible for approximately 42% of the diseases reported in the study, followed by respiratory infections (27%) and skin disorders (17.7%). 25 13.6% of the respondents in the study area reported fever, diarrhea, and other symptoms. The highest incidence of cold or cough was at Anyinam (37.1% of responses), which is very close to the open-air site of AngloGold Ashanti, where rocks are blown up and topsoil removed with heavy machinery.

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Skin diseases were mainly reported by employees and residents of Anyimadokrom (26.6% of responses) and Sanso (24.3% of reactions). In Sanso, respondents noted that the prevalence of skin diseases was mainly due to contamination of water bodies with chemicals that some residents depend on for water, food, and other household purposes. The high incidence of skin diseases in Anyimadokrom is due to its proximity to AngloGold Ashanti’s Pompola treatment facility, where chemicals such as arsenic (sulfur dioxide) are used.

In Abompe and Tutuka, located about 1.5 to 3 km from active mines, except for Malaria, other illnesses such as cold or cough, skin disorders, fever, and diarrhea were relatively low be attributed to the distance to active mines. Mining sites.

In Ghana, the endemic nature of Buruli ulcer in communities adjacent to mining operations suggests that proximity to artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASM) is a risk factor for this disease, as is the case with the highest prevalence of Buruli ulcer in the region. Country. Amansie West District. An increased risk of infection was not associated with direct involvement in mining or contact with mine well water in a case-control study in Ghana, but changes in the use of the soils often associated with ASM activities, such as riverbed disturbances, have been proposed as a reproductive mechanism for Buruli ulcer.

Conclusion: Mining is significant to Ghana’s economy and is a substantial contributor to GDP, and the mining sector creates employment opportunities for many people. However, there are also many adverse effects of mining, as described here. The consequences of mining for the health of surrounding communities include an increased risk of Malaria, skin diseases, diarrhea, fever, colds, and colds. 

Additional health effects include HIV / AIDS contraction by people involved in or associated with prostitution in mining communities. Environmental impacts include noise from heavy trucks from mining centers, contamination of water bodies by chemicals such as arsenic, mercury, and cadmium from refining mined minerals, contamination of agricultural soils with heavy metals, and other pollutants, resulting in rural depletion. Land reduced food productivity due to barren land and lack of wildlife due to clearing of forests that provide habitat for many animal species

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