President Nana Akufo-Addo has given assurance to stakeholders in the small scale mining sector that his administration is committed to ensuring “clean mining” in Ghana, contrary to claims by a section of society that his government is against the sector, popularly known as “galamsey”.
Speaking at the commissioning of 100 mercury-free mineral processing technologies (Gold Kacha), for small scale mining in Ghana at the Independence Square on 6 June 2022, President Akufo-Addo, said he owes the current and future generation of Ghanaians to ensure that responsible mining prevails in the country to protect water bodies and natural resources.
Additionally, the President noted that, the small scale mining sector is a very important contributor to the nation’s revenue generation efforts.
“According to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), in the past seven years other than in 2014, the mining sector has provided the largest tax receipts. Small scale mining’s contribution to the growth of this sector has been incremental since its regularisation in 1989.
“Today, small scale mining accounts for some 40% of our gold exports and provides job opportunities and sources of livelihood and income for many Ghanaians” President Akufo-Addo said.
Ensure clean mining
In spite of its major revenue contribution side, the President observed that “it is also not a secret that the sector has been unfortunately, a major vehicle of environmental pollution and land degradation including the threat posed to life by the use of mercury in the recovery of gold and its subsequent release into the eco-system”.
“The solution to this, however, cannot be, cannot lie, in banning small scale mining which has been with us since time immemorial,” Akufo-Addo said.
On the contrary, the President noted that his administration’s agenda “is to ensure that mining is carried on in a responsible manner as was done by our ancestors and in line with international best practices and conventions across all levels of operation”.
“This will in addition to eliminating the associated negative practices, ensure that small scale mining supports government’s drive to optimize the earning from mining in pursuit of development, progress and prosperity for all Ghanaians,” Akufo-Addo added.
The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinpor, said several small-scale miners rely on mercury to extract gold from ore.
The practice, he said “has serious environmental and health impacts on communities in which they are used. Apart from contaminating water bodies and destroying aquatic life, high exposure to mercury by inhalation can result in damage to the nervous, digestive and immune systems”.
“In children, for example, exposure to mercury can cause physical and mental disabilities. The experts have warned of dire consequences if urgent action is not taken to eliminate the use of mercury in small scale mining”.
“It is for this reason that the world adopted the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which Ghana ratified on 23rd March 2017, under the leadership of President Akufo-Addo,” Jinapor noted.
“Under this Convention, State Parties are to take measures to reduce, and, where feasible, eliminate the use of mercury in artisanal and small-scale mining”.
“The Gold Kachas commissioned by the President, “is a step towards fulfilling our obligation under the Minamata Convention, protecting the health and lives of small scale miners, and the natural environment, and, above all, protecting our population from the debilitating hazards of this chemical,” Jinapor added.
The Kacha mining technology
The mining technology being rolled out in Ghana’s artisanal, small, medium and large-scale mining can process sand, clay and hard rock.
The modular nature of the mining machine design allows for different modules to be added to expand plants as the need arises. This allows miners to gain a return on investment as the miner expands.
The plants are manufactured to specifically remediate mercury contaminated areas, recovering significant quantities of gold in the process.
The mining plants are supplied as fully comprehensive modular solutions from ore through gold dore or bagged mineral concentrates as appropriate without using mercury.
Scrubbing, crushing and milling happen at the same time as the concentrator washes the ore and recovers both fine and coarse gold.
The mining plants have incredible level of efficiency. They have a capacity that ranges from as little as 1.5-3 throughput per hour (3tph) through to 300 throughput per hour (300tph).
They also have HIGH RECOVERY RATE (90%+ gravity recoverable gold) compared with the other methods that recover just about 30-35% of gold.
This intervention aligns with the Government of Ghana’s agenda to promote responsible artisanal and small scale mining that curbs the destruction of forest and water resources.
The processing plants will help catalyse job creation for the youth, save the environment, and protect the lives of miners an communities from mercury contamination.