The foremost national science and technology institution in Ghana, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has stated that Ghana was currently sitting on a possible time bomb as 50% agriculture lands in mining communities had been taken over by mining activities, posing food and water challenges to people in these communities.
Buttressing its claim, the council cited Tarkwa in the Western Region where it indicated that surface mining concessions have currently taken over 70 per cent of the total arable land areas.
It noted that in the very newly mining areas at Tarkwa, about 8 large and illegal small-scale miners have contributed to degrading large tracts of agriculture lands.
According to CSIR, almost all the streams and rivers in the Obuasi mining areas were perceived by residents to have been polluted by the operations of mining companies and ‘galamsey’ operators.
This phenomenon has compelled the CSIR to sound an alarm over the rate of destruction caused to the water bodies, arable lands and environment by the activities of both large and illegal small miners in the country.
In a power-point presentation at the inauguration of a press corps for CSIR in Accra, Deputy Director-General of CSIR, Prof Mrs Rose Emma Mamaa Entsua-Mensah, noted that a research conducted by CSIR indicated that irresponsible mining operations polluted the black Volta, Densu, Obirim, Akonbra, Pra and Ayensu rivers which serve as sources of water for communities in those catchment areas.
She pointed out that more than 50 per cent of agricultural lands in mining areas have been taken over by mining activities.
Prof Entsua-Mensah added, “for example, in Tarkwa in the Western Region, surface mining concessions have currently taken over 70 per cent of the total arable land areas.
That, according to her, was because indigenes in those areas for several years have reported thousands of cases of skin diseases and type II diabetes caused by the high intake of arsenic, a carcinogen associated with gold ores.
Prof Entsua-Mensah urged the Ghana Chamber of Mines, the government and all stakeholders including the citizens to think of better ways of helping to solve this menace.
“Otherwise, we will wake up one day to find out that we do not have any potable water because all the water bodies, as well as our ground water, have been polluted through the unbridled activities of these illegal miners,” she stressed.
Story: Business Desk