Wacam, a community-based mining advocacy organisation, has stated that it was currently working in collaboration with local authorities and individuals in the Prestea-Huni Valley Municipality of the Western Region to reclaim all open mining pits which had been left behind by mining companies in the municipality.
According to the organisation, its checks have revealed that over sixty (60) open mining pits were left behind in Prestea community by mining companies which were currently causing environmental hazards to the people and animals in Prestea Hima Divisional Area in the Western Region.
The development is what has informed Wacam’s decision to partner officials of the assembly, opinion leaders and chiefs to ensuring the refilling of the many open mining pits to help avoid the situation where children and animals fall into these pits and die.
The Executive Director of Wacam, Mr Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, disclosed this while he was speaking to journalists at a media forum organised by Wacam at the Tomreik Hotel, East Legon in Accra recently.
According to him, since the inception of Wacam 20 years ago, the organisation has struggled to stage its irresponsible mining advocacy campaign in the 120 mining affecting communities in Ghana.
He pointed out that gold mining in Ghana which was largely underground mining changed to open cast mining and the efficient use of cyanide for gold extraction in the heap leach method created serious environmental and health challenges for mining communities whose rivers were polluted.
Mr Owusu-Koranteng asserted that as surface mining operations intensified in agrarian host communities, mining related conflicts escalated around land use between mining and other economic activities of host communities.
These conflicts, according to him, include farming, displacement of communities, pollution of rivers, payment of low compensation that do not restore the livelihoods of affected farmers/non-payment of compensation among others.
He noted that the power imbalance between mining companies and the vulnerable mining communities compel mining communities that were confronted with the strength of the mining lobby to seek an avenue for countervailing force to address the power asymmetry.
He stated that the mining sector of Ghana was bedevilled with many problems because of the absence of a policy direction for the sector that was sensitive to the plight of citizens.
He said “Whilst we have succeeded in attracting huge investments in the mining sector, we have failed to regulate the sector in such a way that we would reap short and long term benefits from the sector.”
Consequently, Mr Owusu-Koranteng proposed a holistic approach to solving the problem of irresponsible mining operations in Ghana which would require the placement of a moratorium on the granting of mining concessions to small or large scale mining operations.
Pix: Mr Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, Executive Director of Wacam,