Illegal Mining in Ghana


The second event organized by Boerengroep intern Alex Adugyamfi was about illegal mining in his country, Ghana. Below you can read the report of this event.


Food security has been the concern of many countries because of the projection of population increase of about 10 billion in 2050 by United Nation. A lot of people are wondering about how we are going to feed the world, land availability etc. It was this concern that I thought to draw the attention of people about certain activities that might hinder food security in the years ahead hence the presentation of the topic: illegal Mining in Ghana; The destruction of our source of life.

Illegal mining is seen the absence of land rights, mining license, exploration permit or of any document that is not legitimize the operations of their activities. Since illegal mining operations are carried out without state permission,  they do not comply with labour or environmental regulations. Even though mining (gold and diamond) are essential for development and production but they can never be substituted for  food, water and farmlands. During the last decade illegal mining seems to be taking the place of farming activities in Ghana which is a serious threat to food security, which the world must show concern.

The activities of illegal mining in Ghana is Causing irreparable havoc to the environment:

– Pollution of soil and water bodies with mercury, sludge and other chemicals (these chemicals end up in rivers and ground water, and thus also in drinking water and irrigation water)
– destruction of farms and farm lands,
– degradation of land and vegetation,
– deforestation
– loss of biodiversity.

Several other points mentioned in the documentaries:
– because of all destruction in farmland and more and more people leaving farm work, the food in mining areas becomes more expensive!
– Miners get a payment of around 6 USD per day for a day of very hard and dangerous work. Every year people die, e.g. because the mining pit collapses and people get strapped under the mud. Yet local people are ‘forced’ to work since they don’t earn enough as peasant on the field and yet need have money to send their children to school.
– 95% of the mining is illegal. Yet is showed how easy it is to bribe the police and other officials. Also, it turned out that the gold is also bought by state-owned gold buying companies.
– There is a huge increase in inflow of new machinery by Chinese companies, so that the mining now takes place on a bigger scale.

How could we achieve food security and sovereignty when our food production source is been destroyed?

The presentation and documentary attracted people with different educational and cultural background from Wageningen University. After the documentary the floor was open for discussions which very important ideas and contribution from the audience were laid forth. It was realised that government of the country do not put much priority on Agriculture even though they consider it as the backbone of the country. Besides the security agencies who are supposed to enforce the law as far as illegal mining is concern sometimes conspire with the operators. Though people are making huge sums of money out of these activities but they tend to forget that our only source of production of food and water are being destroyed and this would have a great effect on the next generation. The youth who are also to take over the farming occupation from the aged are also dying because of this illegal, activities. According to Ghana Chamber of Mines, about 300 people lost their lives in 2011 through illegal small scale mining activities. We also got to know that the mercury used by these illegal miners is killing most of the aquatic organisms, threat to human life and increasing the cost of operation of Ghana water company since the would need more chemical to clean the water to make it safe for drinking.

In our discussions we also realized that this threat should not be an individual but a collective since the effect of Ghana can impact on other countries. Seventeen (17) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was set by more than 160 countries on September 25th 2015  to be achieved in 2030. If care is not taken some achievement of the SDGs cannot be realized in 2030. These SDGs would be under treat if the problem is not addressed;

  1. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
  2. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
  3. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
  4. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
  5. Conserve and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
  6. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainable management of forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

It was concluded that the government of Ghana should be very strict and implement it laws on illegal mining and also make agriculture very attractive and create enable environment for job so the youth can be employed. Several conclusions we made to tackle the challenges are:

–> tackle corruption
–> create awareness about health and environment
–> Storage of agricultural produce is important so that peasants get a better (fair) income and don’t have to start working in mines.
–> the government should pay for schooling costs (books, transportation etc) so that people don’t have to work in mines in order to get money to send their children to school
–> People should be more proud of being a peasant (sometimes peasants say ‘I’m unemployed’ because they don’t see farming as a real job)

For the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society etc.

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