Galamsey (gather and sell) or illegal mining in recent years (2016-2020), has been on singing lips of stakeholders and perplexed the minds of the general public in Ghana has well as drawn the attention of international bodies. Our media; both the print and electronic have become occupied by various analyst who express various disposition on the act.
Annually, illegal mining is estimated to mine 28 billion tons of material from the earth. This is more than what is removed by the natural erosion of all the earth's rivers. Worldwide, mining generates an estimated 2.7 billion tons of processing waste each year. Mining (galamsey) could also cause more damaging deforestation than bad farming practices in certain parts of the country, Ghana.
In gold bearing communities such as Nkaseim, Kenyasi, Wuramumuso, Mehame, Tarkwa, Prestea, Elmina, Bogoso, Sefwi and Banda, witness the devastating nature of galamsey to the community. Resaerch show that of those employed in galamsey operations in Ghana, are the youth, women and children representing one of the highest in the world as well as our able-bodied men.
Legislation and its enforcement with regards to mining in Ghana has been poorly conducted; making room for the high profile of the communities to engage the service of the old and young in stripping the nation of its resources. As a result, illegal mining activities are not only environmentally destructive than need be, but do not produce its full economic benefit. Raping the nation off its taxes and royalities. With no study to back their operations, galamsey operators fail to estimate the full costs of eroded land, polluted rivers and displacement of people unlucky enough to live on top of mineral deposits. Virgin land are destroyed without giving the kowtow to the future generations.
It is in the light of this rampant nature of the menace and the growing concern of the general public that I humbly appeal to you for a space in your esteemed newspaper to air my views on the causes and effects of these galamsey acts and suggest ways which could be taken to check the occurrence of this negative act.
The main factors that combine to trigger the decision of individuals to involve in illegal mining stems from hard economic times and unemployment’s in these gold bearing communities.
The ailing economy of our country, which is incapable of supporting the skilled worker.High cost of living, inflation and the non performing power of the cedi makes live unbearable. Making the life of its people difficult. Citizens do not enjoy free or low cost medical care, accommodation, water and electricity and this makes it extremely difficult for them to perform their social responsibilities. They are unable to provide three square meals a day for their children, let alone provide them their necessities and education. Most disheartening is that they live in empty rooms. But man’s desire to acquire the comforts of life remains a dream. For these parents to live a Huggermugger to disgrace or failure, they entertain the thoughts of involving in galamsey which could serve them greener pastures.
Again, the nations is constantly involved in economic reforms and structural adjustment programs, hence the few people who have jobs are thrown out of jobs. Those who finds themselves in this unfortunate situation become frustrated and are unable to sustain themselves. They need to earn a living and have access to necessities of life. Thoughts of survival compel these men and women to consider galamsey as a lucrative venture that is worth exploiting.
Additionally, the lack of employment opportunities in this country is a contributory factor to this situation. The absence of jobs facilities jerk natives to connive with foreigners to dope the nation. It is very disheartening to find university graduates, qualified trained nurses and midwives, professional laboratory scientists, etc. making frantic efforts to search for jobs that do not exist. Most heart-breaking is that the few lucky ones who find jobs are not well paid.
For others it’s the mere desire to enrich their lives with material things such as cars, mansions and money to show off that motivates them to engage in these deviant acts.
The effects of galamsey are adverse and extremely unpleasant. We do not need a seer to sooth say that our country is in danger of collapsing, if the country's fertile land and resources are misappropriated through galamsey practices. Below are some listed effects of galamsey:
EFFECTS OF GALAMSEY
People living in these artisanal environments faces huge threats from galamsey operators. Due to the nature of the work; the citizens are faced with issues of dust, noise pollution, land degradation, water pollution and bad weather conditions that disturb human survival and pecuniary activities. The public cry and fear for this menace is the destructive nature of the environment which if unattended can lead to a desert country in the near future to emanate.
Deforestation, is a major part of the damages galamsey causes to the environment. It involves the clearing of the forest leading to cutting down of trees, to enable them accomplish their operation, of extracting gold. These illegal galamsey workers also do not put in place any measures that will safeguard them from losing their lives. With the fact that the illegal sappers are mostly unskilful, they also use unprotected tools and equipment making them a big threat to the nation
In 2014, a newspaper the daily guide reported that some students had dropped out of school to pursue a career in galamsey, this indicates the adverse effect it has on the education of children of school going age.
Eventually, brilliant and gifted students who could have blossomed into scholars of repute to take charge of the affairs of the country, end up digging pits searching for gold.
According to the Ghana Health Service, mercury, which is a heavy metal and one of the chemicals used by illegal miners in their activities, had a dire effect on the health of humans, as it could cause the breakdown of the central nervous system.
The practice of galamsey activities in the country involves their crude and wasteful methods provide one of the hardest challenges to public health. It involves water use methods and alluvial mining techniques that cause devastating pollution of rivers, streams and lakes. Toxic chemicals such as mercury that have long term health implications on communities for generations are released into these water bodies. The use of these heavy metals to pollute surface and underground water has severe health implications that would not manifest immediately but in the near future. Mercury dispensed through the activities of illegal miners in the form of mercury vapor and the pollution of surface and underground water are highly toxic to humans.
With most surrounding communities depending on the rivers and underground wells for water supply, the end up taken in the mercury saturated water which gets absorbed into the blood to execute it deadly purpose of breaking down the nervous system.
In other for us to win the war against galamsey I propose the following;
Education; Galamsey if done properly and under strict adherence to mining protocols can earn the nation a fair deal of dollars. Educating the operators on the right methods of extracting these minerals through seminars and workshops can go a long way to minimize the effects of illegal mining.
Additionally, the government through the offices of the Minerals Commision, Environmental Protection Agency and the Ghana water resource should ensure that the stringent laws governing our natural resources must be set to motion. I fervently appeal to the government to pass a law to deter some irresponsible and greedy people whose primal desire is to sacrifice the country’s natural resources for self-satisfaction.Further steps should be taken to ensure the security recruits made to protect lands and the other resources.
Also, strenuous efforts should be made by the government to revive the country’s ailing economy and make living conditions better to ensure sanity in our nation. If the economy is improved, parents will be in a better place to provide all the basic needs of their children and give them access to quality education.
Finally, our political and traditional leaders should hold their tongues and refrain from making flippant remarks to the public. They aimed at being innocent from these artisanal acts but are the backbone of the canker. Which people are responsible for giving lands for people to operate on? Save us now or never.
It is my keen hope that the suggestions that have been given would be carefully considered to eliminate this unpleasant situation in Ghana.