— By Emmanuel from Ghana
Mining is the process of using machines to extract natural resources such as gold, diamond and bauxite from the ground. In my community, Tarkwa, in the western part of Ghana, mining is the most common work. Everywhere that you pass you will see people with shovel and basket looking for gold illegally.
In my community, you have to obtain a permit according to the laws of Ghana that allows you to mine but people whether they are ignorant or selfish have taken the decision to do mining illegally.
Illegal mining is digging for gold without permit and is against the law in my community and country.
As a result of this activity, the people of the community are paying heavily for the consequences of illegal mining.
Our water bodies have been polluted and therefore access to potable water for drinking or cooking are difficult to come by.
The fishermen in my community have been rendered jobless due to this illegal mining.
Properties have been destroyed as a result of these illegal mining activities.
Lands have been destroyed and people are forced to leave their houses because of flooding when it rains. This has also caused the spread of malaria.
Farms have been destroyed to be used for mining and this has brought reduction in the production of crops and vegetables in the community and a shortage of food in the community. People even go to the extent of trying to kill themselves for a plot of land. Buildings have been destroyed, stores have been closed down. Robbery has become common. People are afraid to go out for fear of being robbed.
A community which was once peaceful has become disorganized and destroyed as a result of this mining activity.
Mining is not bad when it is done in the right way by the right and qualified people. Mining is the process of extracting metals and minerals from earth legally with the permission of the authorities in the country. It becomes illegal when people do it without the right mechanism in place to protect the water bodies and reclaim the land for future use. Manganese, tantalum, cassiterite, copper, tin, nickel, bauxite (aluminum ore), iron ore, gold, silver, and diamonds are just some examples of what is mined here in Ghana.
The environmental impact of illegal mining includes erosion, the formation of sinkholes, loss of biodiversity and contamination of soil ground water by the chemicals from the mining process.
The chemicals used in the mining process often escape the large scale pollution. There is no doubt that illegal mining activities have caused a great harm to my community. This is because most of the minerals are found in rivers. As a result, the mining companies often resort to blasting of rivers and their surroundings to enable them access to the minerals. This is done without caring about the effects and dangers this will have on the animals, farms, trees and the people in the community,
Sometimes the activities of these illegal miners release toxic substances into the rivers, causing a lot of diseases like cholera to the people in the community, especially those who drink and fish from it.
Deforestation is part of the damage caused by the mining activities which involves the clearing of farms and trees to enable miners to extract their minerals.
These illegal miners do not put measures in place that will safeguard them from getting infections, with the fact that they are unskilled and also use unprotected tools and equipment.
There are high level of drugs and alcoholism, prostitution, armed robbery and sexual abuse in the community as a result of this illegal mining activities.