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Opinions of Monday, 22 July 2013

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi

Repairing Environmental Degradation ...

... Caused By Illegal Gold Mining

By Kofi Thompson

It is so sad that it took so long for the authorities to clamp down on the wealthy syndicates behind most of the illegal gold mining and illegal logging in Ghana.

It is to the eternal credit of President Mahama that when he became Ghana's leader, he decided to act decisively, to end the destruction of the natural environment in vast swathes of the Ghanaian countryside, resulting from the activities of illegal gold miners across Ghana.

The poisoning of soils, rivers and the contamination of underground water reservoirs with cyanide and mercury, poses a long-term risk to public health.

For that reason, the inter-ministerial task force formed to halt the activities of illegal gold miners, ought to consider how the soil-decontaminating properties of biochar and vertiver grass could be harnessed to repair some of the widespread environmental degradation caused by illegal gold miners.

Repairing the harm caused by illegal gold mining could actually provide employment for the youth in rural Ghana.

Co-operatives could be formed by the inhabitants of areas affected by the operations of small-scale gold miners - to which such work could be outsourced: and paid for from the reclamation bond that gold mining companies are supposed to pay to regulators, as a guarantee that their exhausted concessions will be rehabilitated.

Luckily for our nation, research is being conducted on biochar at the University of Ghana, by a team led by Dr. Eric Kwesinartey.

Perhaps the international NGO Pro-Natura could help organise this important task in rural areas polluted and degraded by small-scale gold mining. It is headed in Ghana by Professor Anna Barnes of the University of Ghana.

One hopes that the dynamic minister for lands and natural resources, the Hon. Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, and the senior public officials who advise him, will hold discussions with Professor Anna Barnes and Dr. Kwesinartey to find a way in which Pro Natura could assist the Rural Enterprises Project to help unemployed rural youth to set up co-operatives and train them to produce biochar and vertiver grass to repair the harm caused by gold mining to the natural environment across rural Ghana.

Tel: 027 745 3109.