Professor Benedict Nii Laryea Calys-Tagoe, Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Ghana (UG), says due to illegal mining, unborn generations are not spared as they are born with deformities traced directly to the effects of these activities.

He said illegal mining, also known as ‘Galamsey’ as had been practiced in Ghana, was an existential threat which posed severe health challenges not only to those directly involved but also to communities far and near.

The Professor, speaking at the Day of Scientific Renaissance of Africa (DRSA) at the University of Ghana, on the issues of illegal mining in Ghana, said the solutions lie in political will to end this, and not just mere rhetoric.

He said a typical mining operation involved exposure of workers to a range of hazards, including extreme temperatures, injuries, from machinery and other objects and falls.

‘The average noise produced during mining work is 89.4 dBA, which is above the 85 dBA limit recommended by the World Health Organisation, causing anno
yance, decreased work efficiency, and eventually may lead to noise-induced hearing loss,’ he added.

Prof. Calys-Tagoe said members of the communities within which they operated also bore the brunt of these activities, with some of the contaminations leading to reduced availability of portable water to citizens, and water-borne diseases.

He said registration of small-scale mining sites should be increased by improving the process by reducing or eliminating fees and localising registrations.

The Prof. added that the Ministries, Local Government, and District Assemblies should promote and protect diversification of economic opportunities.

He called on the Government to provide water, electricity, telecommunications, and sanitation in partnership with enterprises to artisanal and small-scale gold mining communities and other affected communities.

Prof. Benedicta Fosu-Mensah, an Ecology and Natural Resources Management Scientist, said ‘galamsey’ had become a pervasive issue in Ghana, while providing livelihoo
ds for many, left behind a trail of destruction that undermined the very foundation of the nation’s prosperity.

She said illegal mining was a key driver of deforestation, leading to the loss of precious forests, which were home to diverse species and were crucial in carbon sequestration.

‘The clearing of forests for mining activities destroys habitats, threatens biodiversity, and disrupts ecosystems’

‘In 2022, 0ver 19,000 hectares of cocoa farms were destroyed by illegal mining, according to Ghana Cocoa Board,’ she added.

She said a report by the World Resource Institute in 2021 showed that Ghana was losing its forests at a 60 per cent rate, faster than any country in the world.

Professor Fosu-Mensah said the environmental destruction caused by illegal mining contributed significantly to climate change, such that deforestation and soil degradation released greenhouse gases, while the disruption of water bodies altered local climates.

‘These changes manifest as more frequent and severe weather events, un
predictable rainfall patterns, and rising temperatures. The impact on agriculture is profound, with farmers facing reduced yields and increased vulnerability to climate-related shocks. This threatens food security and livelihoods, particularly in rural areas,’ she added.

The Professor said there was the need to strengthen regulations and enforcement, promote sustainable mining practices, provide alternative livelihoods, raise awareness, and educate, invest in research and innovation, and foster collaboration to address this menace.

‘As we celebrate the DSRA, let us commit to harnessing our scientific knowledge and collective will to protect our environment. The fight against this issue is not just for the Government or environmentalists, but for all,’ she added.

Source: Ghana News Agency