The Ghana Chamber of Mines used the commemoration of World Environmental Day to reiterate the need for effective policy implementation from government to sustain the conservation of Ghana’s natural resources.
The Chamber noted “weak regulatory oversight and parochial political considerations” as contributors to the proliferation and escalation of illegal mining, which has been acknowledged as one of the major threat to Ghana’s environment.
These points were made in a speech read on behalf of Ahmed D. Nantogmah, the Chamber’s External Relations and Communications Director, at an event organised by the Centre for School and Community Science and Technology Studies of the University of Education, to mark the 2017 World Environment Day.The first half of 2017 has seen concerted efforts to end the environment-ravaging menace of illegal mining which has left most Ghana’s natural water bodies heavily polluted, as well as the negative ripple effects on crop production and other agricultural activities.
There is currently a six-month ban on small-scale mining as part of efforts to end illegal mining and its degrading effects on the environment.
Delivering the speech, Derick Romeo Adogla, an External Relations and Communications Officer at the Chamber, indicated the need for responsible conservation to overcome some of the major environmental problems brought on by illegal mining and other environmentally degrading human activities.
“There is no doubt that responsible conservation is a crucial way to solve environmental problems. It is important to recognize however, that creating wealth and protecting the environment must coexist. The environment cannot be protected by conservation alone.”
Mr. Adogla reminded of the calling cards of illegal miners, some of which have over the years upgraded to the use of heavy earth-moving equipment and banned chemicals which have created “tremendous challenges for our water resources managers in the country.”
“The Chamber’s own studies have revealed that the enforcement of Health, Safety and Environmental standards through the engagement of competent Mining Engineers and Environmental Officers by small-scale miners will drastically improve the destructive nature of illegal mining,” he noted.
Danger of Sand winning
The Chamber also noted major risk that sand winning poses to the environment which “can be even worse than ‘galamsey.”
Mr. Adogla explained that “it [sand wining] can degrade a large area in a short time. This has affected water bodies, forest reserves and farming activities in many parts of the country. Sand winning is a direct cause of erosion which has a devastating impact on the environment and wildlife. Another area that requires urgent attention is the illegal fishing activities” he noted.