Recently, there was news that mineral deposits, of gold, iron ore and lithium have been found in the Oti and Volta regions’ areas of Akpafu and Bonwiri, which are forest reserves.
It was announced that mining will begin in 2023. This is where I have problems. With the happenings in areas destroyed by illegal and unregulated mining in this country, I seem to be the lone voice, calling for a complete suspension of all forms of mining and the implementation of a programme to reclaim our water bodies and arable lands, a lasting and binding mining policy put in place, before we begin mining again.
Already, a BBC news in 2021 stated that about 60% of our natural water bodies have been polluted. Must we wait till we get to the El Salvador’s level of 90% before we act?
I was therefore, pleasantly surprised when I read a publication, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, by the Catholic bishop of Jasikan Diocese, Most Rev. Gabriel A. Mante.
In this publication, the Lord Bishop raised very genuine concerns about what could surely happen in the Oti and Volta regions should mining begin there. The sources he gave are very much alive with us today, with what is happening in mining communities. Water bodies, farm lands and cocoa farms are being destroyed with such impunity. Foreigners who abide by environment laws in their countries, are here destroying ours just in search of gold and other minerals.
Bishop Mante, in calling for discarding of mining in Oti and Volta regions, made reference to the Papal Encyclical, Laudato Si, published in May 2015 by Pope Francis.
In this encyclical, the Pope drew our attention to the fact that the earth is our common home and we are mandated by God to take care of it. The consequences of doing otherwise,could be very serious.
When the Pope came out with this, some prominent people make mockery of him, because their business demands they destroy nature.
When a Catholic priest speaks, he speaks. Catholic bishops by their ranks are like the apostles of Jesus Christ and God did speak to them.
In the sixties, Pope Paul VI declined to allow Christians to use contraceptives. His reasons went beyond just prevention of pregnancy, but entered into areas called the experimentation of the human body. He warned and he was mocked at.
About twenty years later, sexual experiments led to LGBT+. Transgender came up with costly sex change, about $100,000.00 per surgery. Humans started having sex with animals including snakes, and even marrying them, without shame but vain pride. Incest is now permitted.
This was what Pope Paul VI warned us against, when sexual issues were being upgraded by the formal introduction of contraception.
Some of us pray, that humans should abide by Laudato Si, if not something terrible could happen to this world in less than twenty years’ time. We need to protect our environment.
Most Rev. Gabriel A. Mante, as a servant of God, is most concern about the destruction of his Master’s properties, in the form of these illegal and unregulated mining going on. The destruction and injustice perpetrated by all forms of mining on the people, especially the poor who live off the land, should not be tolerated anymore.
Poverty, floods, upsurge of skin diseases, variety of cancers, sexual diseases, deformed births and early mortality among children and youth are now very rampant.
“Such dangerous chemicals as Lead, Cadmium, Zinc, Mercury, Arsenic, Chromium, Cyanide and Copper have been introduced into mining activities with careless abandon, and do nothing but cause harm to the growth, development, reproduction, and behaviour of living things.
The biodiversity is reduced and the ecosystem has been seriously damaged, and the farmland polluted by mining acids. No doubt, foreign markets have started rejecting agricultural produce from Ghana,” Bishop Mante, sadly referred us to.
With 60% of our natural water bodies polluted, when major river bodies in the Oti and Volta regions, such as Dayi and Oti also get polluted out of mining in these regions and they feed into the Volta River, the repercussions for the whole country will be serious.
Mining is meant to create employment opportunities to the local people especially the youth. But in all seriousness, has this been achieved anywhere in this country? What is the end result? Obuasi should have been as beautiful as Johannesburg, since both are the top two gold producing areas in Africa. What happened to Obuasi?
Once the mining investors start work and do not cater for the people in the area, once their men go luring the young ladies with worthless goodies, and impregnating them and running away from responsibility, then we have a problem.
Once the young men feel left out and their farmlands get taken away from them or destroyed, then illegal mining will begin.
The bishop also warned against mining in elevated areas, since this could cause landslide and communities could go under rocks and debris, ending thousands of lives.
When a Catholic priest speaks, we all ought to listen. The only way out now, is to cancel this mining prospects in the Oti and Volta regions. In fact, no more mining anywhere in Ghana, until we resolve the problems mining has placed on our heads.
Hon Daniel Dugan
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect The Chronicle’s stance.