Unmask the powerful faces behind galamsey – Panelists

Ken Ashigbey

The Ghana government has been called upon to unmask the powerful faces behind the destructive practice of illegal gold mining known as galamsey.

Panelists at a public discussion in Accra on galamsey said that there are very powerful and influential persons in society behind the practice and their identities ought to be revealed if ongoing campaign against the practice is to yield any meaningful results.

According to them, some politicians, chiefs and businessmen have succeeded in mortgaging several mining communities for their selfish interests, making the fight against the practice extremely challenging.

The Convenor of the Media Coalition Against Galamsey, Ken Ashigbey has therefore recommended government as a matter of urgency carry out comprehensive auditing in the mining sector to determine sustainable miners and use miners who are exonerated as vanguards against illicit mining.

Mr Ashigbey was contributing to the panel discussion on at a public screening of a documentary on the subject in Accra.

The 30-minute documentary titled “Galamsey – For a fistful of Gold” was produced and directed by a German filmmaker, Johhannes Preuss.

The film, which won a Student Oscars in 2017, highlights the phenomenon of illegal gold mining in Ghana and particularly focuses on pollution with poisonous chemicals like mercury, poverty, exploitation and corruption. 

The public screening of the film in Accra under the auspices of the German technical co-operation agency, GIZ and the German education and cultural organisation, the Goethe Institute was a contribution to the conversation on the dangerous and destructive practice.

Mr. Ashigbey said the failure of the country’s leadership to act on the issue has resulted in the wanton destruction the nation is currently faced with and warned that if urgent measures are not put in place to address the social impacts of galamsey such as increasing teenage pregnancies, piling of arms and the Chinese influence, the future could be more catastrophic.

“We must confront these forcefully,” he said.

Dr. Benedict Calys-Tagoe

A Community Health Consultant, Dr Benedict Calys-Tagoe said a recent scientific study in most illegal mining communities revealed that inhabitants are compelled to live in highly insanitary environments, consume water polluted with heavy metals and are confronted with high noise levels well over 90 decibels, way above WHO prescribed levels, as a result of the detrimental activities of illegal miners.

He particularly warned against the use of mercury by the miners saying it has high possibility of harming fishes such as Tilapia which in turn are consumed by humans.

The Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng said government was leaving nothing to chance to protect lives and the environment.

The director of the film, Jonannes Preuss recommended to government to revise the legal regime guiding the mining sector to offer better safeguards for the environment.

The panel discussion was moderated by, Emmanuel K. Dobgevi, the Managing Editor of Ghana Business News, who has also covered the extractive industries extensively.

By Emmanuel J. K. Arthur
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