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en/ghana-analysts-argue-that-banning-foreign-investment-in-small-scale-gold-mining-wont-mitigate-environmental-damage-0#c195760

Ghana: Analysts argue that banning foreign investment in small-scale gold mining won't mitigate environmental damage

Author: Gabriel Botchwey and Gordon Crawford, The Conversation, Published on: 26 September 2019

"Lifting the lid on Ghana's illegal small-scale mining problem", 25 September 2019.

Small-scale gold mining...continues to be an important means of livelihood for many relatively low-income Ghanaians and is highly significant for the economy as a whole...In 2006 small numbers of Chinese and other foreign miners came to Ghana to engage in gold mining. Then a hike in gold prices from 2008 onwards led to a veritable gold rush and the arrival of significant numbers of foreign miners. Most were working on an illicit and illegal basis...

Our research ranged from looking at conflict, collusion and corruption in small-scale gold mining, specifically in relation to Chinese miners and the state in Ghana. We also looked at the impact of China’s informal gold rush in Ghana as well as the militarisation and criminalisation of artisanal and small-scale gold mining.

Our findings revealed that the sector is rife with corruption. We also conclude that closing off foreign involvement in small-scale mining in the face of extremely low local investment and high unemployment is unlikely to work...Instead of trying to ban the activity, [the government] should allow it, and accompany this with better regulation...

One consequence of the developments was...that inequality among Ghanaians involved in small‐scale mining also increased substantially. This included a gendered dimension, as women, children, and many young people were left to extract the “scraps” left after mechanised alluvial gold mining. Another affect of the rise in small-scale mining has been that many acres of cocoa farms have been lost...Another consequence was incalculable environmental damage to land and water bodies. Streams and rivers being diverted for mining purposes, and surface and ground water was polluted with hazardous chemicals, notably cyanide and mercury for gold processing...

Already in some villages in the western and central regions of Ghana, residents have to travel to urban areas to buy sachet water for drinking and basic staples such as cassava to feed themselves due to mercury and diesel pollution of land and water resources...

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