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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
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 Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
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.

VOA Blogs

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