Although Ghana requires permits to mine on a small scale, it is estimated that about 70% of small-scale miners are unregistered and operate illegally. They are known locally as galamsey, meaning to “gather and sell”. While illegal mining supports livelihoods, it has caused severe damage to the environment. Illegal mining operations are destroying the farmlands, forests, and water bodies in Ghana.
The general public and academia are calling for a concerted effort to rid the country of illegal mining activities and to restore abandoned mining sites across the country. Gold mining has always been a part of Ghana, from the ornate jewelry of the Ashanti kings to British colonization.
In the last several years, however, largely unregulated galamsey mining has ramped up—due in part to Chinese investors who bring sophisticated equipment and a lagging economy that makes the prospect of striking gold too sweet to pass. These often illegal operations can result in contaminated water, deforestation, and a rise in violent crime.
Illegal gold mining in Ghana further exacerbates a volatile cocoa market. In 2014, experts predicted a global cocoa shortage by 2020. However, cocoa production statistics have been unpredictable since then, according to the most recent data from the 2015-16 growing season. That year, there was a cocoa surplus, attributed to a prolonged rainy season.
Recently, the price of the bean has plummeted to historic lows on global commodity exchanges— negatively impacting the profits of West African cocoa farmers. In 2011, Ghana produced a record-setting amount of cocoa, weighing in at over one million tonnes. Since then, as illegal mining steadily ramped up, cocoa production has trended downwards, with a drop to 740,000 tonnes in 2015.
“Galamsey is the biggest threat to cocoa production,” Pomasi Ismael, the chairman of a cocoa buyer’s collective, told local media recently.
Several other factors have been blamed for the volatile nature of the cocoa market, most notably climate change, which can usher in an extremely dry season one year and excessive rain the next. Deforestation from illegal gold mining may speed up such effects.
Ghana. Cocoa is a significant cash crop grown on agriculturally productive grounds, but mining competes with cocoa not just for land, but also for the loss of arable ground. Mining’s benefits and costs have become a point of contention. The survey discovered that mining activities had deprived farmers of good and stable land.
Residents of these settlements in Ghana’s Ashanti Region’s Amanisie West District have faced difficulties as a result of the degradation of agricultural areas, standing forests, and rivers. The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of illegal mining on cocoa output and quality in the Amansie West District. Using structured questionnaires and field observations, data on the impact of illegal mining in relation to the presence of heavy metals was acquired.
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