The Ghanaian Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has warned the government not to lift the country’s ban on small-scale mining, following President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s announcement earlier this week that the government intends to reverse the ban.
Ghana’s CSIR claims that the country’s water and forest resources have not recovered from damage caused by illegal mining that prompted the ban to be put in place in January 2017, and that removing the ban would lead to further environmental destruction.
Chief research scientist at the CSIR Water Research Institute, Dr Kankam Yeboah, said the government must “educate the public to see the need to stop. I won’t do that as long as we still find the recalcitrant ones doing that illegal mining.
“You can’t just lift it and say that is the end. Regeneration of this water and putting them right again is not an overnight process.”
Small-scale miners have accused the government of ignoring their interests, as the losses of revenues and jobs have affected their livelihoods. The paper The Extractive Industries and Society estimated that 1.1 million Ghanaians were directly employed in small-scale mining in 2014, and that a further 4.4 million were dependent on the industry
It was reported in Journal of Sustainable Mining in 2016 that 86 people had died in illegal mining operations since 2009, prompting the government to establish Operation Vanguard, a security force to crack down on illegal mining. The group claims it has been 75% successful, and that it had arrested nine illegal miners this week at the Prestea Valley and Upper Denkyria West Distrcits in the Central Region. Five miners were Ghanaians and the other four were Chinese.
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While the ban was originally a temporary measure, it has been renewed twice and was set to continue indefinitely ahead of Akufo-Addo’s announcement.