ARTISANAL AND SMALL−SCALE MINING IN WASSA AMENFI EAST DISTRICT, (Ghana)

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ABSTRACT

Artisanal and small-scale mining in Ghana has been in existence as far back as pre-colonial era. The industry which is mostly controlled by Ghanaians is highly unregulated pre 1987 (Hilson, 2001). However, because of dwindling state of the economy, the government under the auspices of the German NGO; Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) and the World Bank, decided to legalize small-scale mining as part of Economic Recovery Policies (ERP), allowing individuals to mine minerals in both mechanized and un-mechanized manner. Several laws were enacted to strengthen this policy. Despite the laws, illegal mining has been going on unabated in the country causing several environmental destructions.

This study was carried out using Wassa Amenfi East district as a case study to determine (1) the impact(s) of legalizing small-scale mining in the country using the three principles (pillars) of sustainable development (economy, social and environmental) as indicators. (2) The perception and preference of the local population between exploitation of minerals for economic growth and conservation of natural environment.

It was discovered that small scale mining has had an insignificant impact on the district/individuals economy while the district have suffered various degrees of environmental degradation, water pollution, deforestation, heavy metal contamination, loss of farm land, etc.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. INTRODUCTION
            1.1 Background

2. DEFINITION OF ARTISANAL AND SMALL-SCALE MINING
            2.1 Policies and Legislation on artisanal mining in the country/district
            2.2 The economic strategy of artisanal mining in the country
            2.3 Characteristics of small scale mining in Ghana

3. WASSA AMENFI EAST DISTRICT
            3.1 Small-scale gold mining in Wassa Amenfi East district
            3.2 Level of production

4. THE IMPACTS OF SMALL SCALE MINING IN WASSA AMENFI EAST DISTRICT
            4.1 Advantages and Disadvantages of small scale mining in Wassa Amenfi East District
            4.2       Advantages
            4.3. Disadvantages

5. MATERIAL AND METHOD
6. RESULTS
            6.1 Part one: Impact on the economy
            6.2 Part Two: Impact on Environment
            6.3 Part Three: Impact on Social Activities

7. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
            7.1 The Way Forward

8. REFERENCES

9.         APPENDICES
Appendix


1. Introduction

Ghana is richly endowed with mineral resources such as gold, diamonds, manganese, bauxite, clays, kaolin, mica, columbite-tantalite, feldspar, chrome, silica sand, quartz, salt etc, (Draft National Mining Policy of Ghana, 2010). Artisanal and small-scale mining in Ghana has been in existence as far back as pre-colonial era (Hilson, 2001). Citizens from different communities (including Wassa Amenfi East) engaged in this activity as a means of supporting themselves as well as to make provisions for their family needs (Awumbila & Tsikata, 2007). However, artisanal and small-scale mining which is locally called “galamsey” were said to be illegal in the country, and those who engage in it do it secretly or out of desperation for survival.

But recently (1987), Ghana government under the auspices of the German NGO Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) and the World Bank, decided to legalize small-scale mining as part of Economic Recovery Policies (ERP), allowing individuals to mine minerals in both mechanized and un-mechanized manner, (Draft National Mining Policy of Ghana, 2010). Although this effort has scored a significant degree of good result, however, problems such as environmental impacts, land-use conflicts, surface and ground water pollution, etc. has been ignored largely by the government (Hilson, 2001).

The purpose of this study is to examine the impact(s) of legalizing small-scale mining in the country using the three principles (pillars) of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental) indices as indicators. In this study, Wassa Amenfi East district is used as a case study where all the necessary investigations were to be carried out.


The result of this study could be used to (1) determine the consequential impacts of this decision by the government from the local populace, and (2) know the preference of the local population between exploitation of minerals for economic growth and conservation of natural environment.

1.1 Background

The West African nation of Ghana like many other countries in the continent was naturally blessed with numerous mineral resources such as gold, diamonds, manganese, bauxite, clays, kaolin, mica, columbite-tantalite, feldspar, chrome, silica sand, quartz, salt etc. (Lawson & Bentil, 2013). The chief deposit of these minerals especially gold and diamond could be mainly found within the forest area of the southern Ghana (the Ashanti region), Ghana Mineral Commission (G.M.C), 2010.

Before the arrival of the Portuguese sailors in search of gold in West Africa in the late 1400s, mineral resources have been trading in large quantities and are transported across the Sahara, to North Africa. Mining and trading of these resources helped to establish and support major trading centers in the Sahel, along the coast of the Niger River. It also contributed to the establishment of main trading ports along the Mediterranean Sea (Ghana Mineral Commission, 2010; Aryee et al, 2002)

Gold production increased within the forest area of the southern Ghana as a result of the arrival of the European traders, and southern Ghana became popularly known as the “gold coast”. The area became one of the most important gold producing area in the world eclipsing other major gold producing areas in west African region of Mali (Bambuk) and (Boure) in the northern Guinea. The European traders competed vigorously for minerals especially gold for over 400 years (1490s till late 1800s), which lead to the sprout of several forts and trading posts along the gold coast (G.M.C, 2010).


Furthermore, the high demand for these commodities and vigorous competition among the stakeholder hasten the abrupt diminishing of gold deposits in the area for about three centuries. Sadly, the trade for minerals took a diabolic turn and became slave trade and the coastal forts suddenly became way-stations for West Africans who were carted away to a new world where they were enslaved as plantation workers. However, the gold trade recovered early in mid 1800s after slave trade was abolished in many countries (G.M.C, 2010). It is important to note that productions all these while were carried out in an unmechanised manner that could today be regarded as artisanal or small-scale mining.

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