Sustainable small-scale gold mining in Ghana: setting and strategies for sustainability
P. A. Eshun, 2005. "Sustainable small-scale gold mining in Ghana: setting and strategies for sustainability", Sustainable Minerals Operations in the Developing World, B. R. Marker, M. G. Petterson, F. McEvoy, M. H. Stephenson
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In Ghana, small-scale/artisanal gold mining has been on-going for more than a century. Artisanal mining has been the support for the rural people who more often than not are forced to sacrifice their farmlands and means of livelihood for large-scale mining operations. In order to reduce the activity of small scale/artisanal during the colonial era, laws were passed to bar indigenous operators from dealing in gold ore, amalgam, bullion, retorted gold, slags, concentrates and mercury. In recent years, however, under the auspices of the German non-governmental agency, Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) and the World Bank, the Ghana government has undertaken a number of initiatives to formalise and regulate small-scale mining operations. Unfortunately, small-scale mining activities are characterised by lack of capital and minimum use of appropriate technology in the mining and treatment of the minerals into finished products. In addition, the industry is associated with land degradation and water pollution. This paper explores possible strategies that aim to make small-scale gold mining in Ghana more sustainable (i.e. more efficient, less destructive to the environment and more meaningful to the operators and the country as a whole). The roles of stakeholders in the small-scale mining industry in Ghana are also identified. It concludes that, for sustainable small-scale mining, a pragmatic synergistic approach must be adopted by all stakeholders in the organisation, regularisation, training and support of small-scale mining operations in Ghana. Mineable lands need to be delineated, illegal operators should be organised and brought under a responsible umbrella, small-scale mining operators should be supported with funds, technology and education, and alternative livelihood programmes must be pursued in mining communities.
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Sustainable Minerals Operations in the Developing World
The sustainable development of minerals, which are non-renewable resources, is a major challenge in today’s world. In this regard the true definition of sustainability’ is a debating point in itself: can such a concept exist with respect to non-renewable resources? Perhaps the ideal sustainability model is one that minimizes negative environmental impact and maximizes benefits to society, the economy and regional/national development. Developed and near-developed economies rely for commodity supplies on developing countries where major mining operations are often a mainstay of the domestic economy. Limited environmental regulation and low wages lead to charges of exploitation. Also, large numbers of people have no alternative to living by informal, often dangerous, ‘artisanal’ mining. This Special Publication gives examples from developing countries at all scales of mineral extraction. The volume reviews environmental, economic, health and social problems and highlights the need to solve these before sustainability can be achieved. The better solutions require mutual understanding, through full involvement of all stakeholders, education, training and investment so that small-scale ansd artisinal mines can grow into well-managed operations. At larger scales, most major interantional mining companies have now inoproved their practices and are monitoring their progress, although there is no room for complacency in this rapidly changing area.