Mr Johan Zietsman, Lead Researcher for the Kyebi Reclamation Project, has said the mercury content in some mining sites in Kyebi in the Eastern Region is 2,000 times higher than the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) permissible level.
The researcher who works with the Eco Sika Ghana Limited Gold Recovery and a Member of the Kyebi Reclamation Project Steering Committee, said the discovery was made when a research team conducted a survey on the level of mercury contamination and topographic challenges in 18 mined blocs in Kyebi area in March and April last year.
“We have discovered some disturbing areas. It’s actually as high as two PPB that is, two parts per billion of mercury contamination. We have even discovered some areas which have got even Four PPB, thus four parts per billion, that means it is over two thousand times higher than what is allowed by the World Health Organisation Regulations,” he stated.
Mr Zietsman made the disclosure during the swearing-in of an Eight-Member Steering Committee in Accra to supervise the reclamation of degraded mined sites in Kyebi in the Eastern Region.
He said in view of the discovery, red flags had been erected at the mining areas with high mercury content, while yellow flags had been erected in areas that were considered suitable for reclamation.
Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, a Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, who administered the Oath of Office and Secrecy to the Committee members tasked them to certify lands that were safe for reclamation through scientific soil testing.
He said: “This is a pilot scheme we’re rolling out and the success of the project is going to help us roll out the nationwide programme, and also copy it as the best practice for reclamation”
He said the Committee was supposed to help in the introduction of economic trees and crops at the reclaimed areas and selection of agencies to replant the trees, as well as ensuring the overall coordination and harmony of all stakeholders in implementing the objectives of the project.
Mr John Peter Amewu, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, in November last year, launched the Kyebi Reclamation Project to recover 18 illegal mining sites in Kyebi area.
Ghana has also signed onto the Minamata Convention, which seeks to ban the usage of mercury in the mining industry due to the harmful effects of the chemical on human life.