News / Africa

Illegal Miners in Ghana Moving into Restricted Forest Areas

Joana Mantey
Illegal mining is posing severe challenges to mining communities in Ghana. The unlawful practice is gradually shifting to restricted forest areas with dire consequences to the environment.

Illegal mining is a major source of income for people living in mining areas. They work by digging pits close to the mining enclaves of big companies. But now, a new trend is evolving and people are beginning to exploit land for mineral wealth in protected forest areas.

Cudjoe Awudi, a corporate planning manager at Ghana’s Forestry Commission, says those who engage in such acts are flouting the laws of the country.

“People sneak into the reserves at night. Sometimes we can’t identify them. We have challenges of personnel and logistics," said Awudi.

There are more than 270 such forest reserves in Ghana. They serve as sources of lumber as well as protection for some river bodies. However, inappropriate practices by the illegal miners are causing the loss of timber resources. Awudi said land degradation and cyanide spillage was also polluting affected soil and water bodies.

“It affects those downstream of the river. For example, Densu river in the Atiwa forest reserve. It supplies water to about 65 percent of Accra’s population. So if we don’t take care, then Accra may not get water. So we are trying to flush out the illegal miners, otherwise, cost of treatment of water will go up,” he said.

Other affected areas include Manzam and Tano Offin forest reserves in the western region of Ghana.  Awudi said although gold prices have fallen on the world market, it still attracted local and foreign interests.

“Majority are Ghanaians but the Chinese have joined them to give them better technology. Then there are people from Mali and Burkina Faso. There is a case in northern Ghana where people from Ivory Coast and Mali entered a reserve called Bui National Park where the dam is. We just flushed them out,” he said.

The government of Ghana is working with community groups and law enforcement agencies to deal with the problem. However, a community based human rights group, WACAM, said more drastic measures should be adopted in dealing with the challenge. It said a mining law that allows two percent concessionary rights in restricted forests to multinational companies must be reviewed.

“The Ajenua Bepo forest reserve has been given as concession to Newmont. The Kubi forest reserve has been given to Anglogold to mine. Protected forest is not a product that you can pick and choose from; its whole. So once you start destroying elements, no matter how small, you destroy the integrity of the forest,” said Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, a director at WACAM.

Owusu-Koranteng said new provisions must prevent companies from externalizing their social, cultural and environmental costs to society. Penalties for violating the law must also be tightened to help prevent cyanide spillage.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More