Ban Galamsey Operations
Gold gave this nation its pre-independence name, the Gold Coast. It was the search for gold that brought the white man to this soil to begin the process that was to lead several years of suppression, code-named colonisation. A number of people abroad, especially in Her Majesty’s Great Britain, still have fond memories of this gold as a rich deposit in Ghana.
The deep pits at Obuasi, Tarkwa and other places in the hinterlands of this nation, owe their existence to multi-nationals who have invested in technology and funding to extract gold from the bowels of the earth, in the process of which they have enriched their share-holders sitting in comfort by their firesides in Europe.
In Ghana, we do not have many juicy stories to tell on the exploitation of gold. All we have to relate is the pollution of our sources of water supply, and the degradation of the environment, putting our people in distress. Last year, The Chronicle had a running battle with a multi-national company which was bent on moving an entire community from their ancestral home, because the township is sitting on gold.
The worry was that all ancestral groves in the town were to be destroyed. In the midst of this entire calamity, the compensation did not go to enrich the people. Central Government received most of the cash, with the people receiving peanuts, if any at all.
The idea that much of the gold deposit has been consigned to foreigners is what has enraged local activists, especially the youth, to decide to enter into small-scale mining, using very crude equipment and instrument.
Without the resources to explore deep pit mining, the small scale miner’s tendency is to destroy the environment and pollute water the more. Quite recently, it emerged that the stretch of land behind the Okyenhene’s Palace at Kyebi had all been destroyed by these illegal miners, known in local parlance as galamsey operators. The miners have turned the serene atmosphere at one of the most revered places in the nation’s chieftaincy institutions, into gutters holding very dirty water.
Calamity struck at the weekend, when two naval officers chasing illegal miners, who have been polluting the Pra River, got drowned in the river. It is one calamity that has been repeating itself, as our security service personnel sent to flush out the illegal miners continue to lose their lives.
Surely, this nation cannot afford to have our water bodies destroyed, environment degraded, and the lives of our people put in jeopardy, simply because some of our youth want to explore for gold, using primitive implements.
The Chronicle does not believe it is right for the state to continue to allow the operations of these small scale miners -legal or illegal. In the name of galamsey operations, full-blooded Ghanaians are petrified of complaining about their water bodies being destroyed by illegal Chinese miners, wielding guns and without any documentation about how they got into this country, or their status as migrants.
Gold is threatening to become a curse rather than a source of riches. In a country, built on the sweat of the cocoa farmer, we would have to decide, and very soon, on whether or not to continue to maintain galamsey operations with all the hazards.
The considered view of The Chronicle is that it is not worth all the wahala. This nation must consider banning small scale mining operations. They are more of a nuisance than contributing towards the building of the economy.
Very soon, the two naval officers who died chasing illegal miners would be put to rest. Let us honour their memories by banning this menace of galamsey!
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