We at the Artisanal & Small Scale Mining Africa-Network (ASMAN) are aware that the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in carrying out its mandate in conformity with the principles of the National Environment Policy has developed the AKOBEN program for the large scale mining industry Ghana.
The program as we are all aware, is an environmental performance rating and disclosure initiative of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Under the initiative, the environmental performance of mining operations (at the moment, excluding small scale mining operators) are monitored and assessed in line with set standards as well as Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) guidelines.
The AKOBEN as we at ASMAN understand is to serve as a monitoring and verification program to ensure that companies follow environmental regulations on a continual basis.
At a recent 2-day Round Table International Conference on Reducing Environmental Health Impacts of Harmful Pollutants in the Africa Region organized by the World Bank in collaboration with the Ghana Environmental Agency (EPA), and held in Accra, serious deliberations were held on the dangerous impact of pollutants in general such as E-waste and Mercury use in the Small Scale Mining Sector.
Additionally, collaborative efforts within and outside the countries of concern as well as efforts been made to ensure reduction and elimination of contaminations were discussed.
We at ASMAN wish to use this statement to remind the EPA that following our submission made at the conference on the subject-matter in relation to small scale mining in Ghana; we are still expectant of a major policy move to ensure the institutionalization of the AKOBEN model for the Small Scale Mining Industry in order to halt the current trend where small scale miners have unacceptably graduated from the mercury-abuse system of operation to the usage of the unauthorized cyanide which could be even more disastrous, when mishandled.
ASMAN also notes with grave concern the lack of education and development of national plans on Artisanal & Small Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) including a
Public health strategies that seek to address awareness on the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
As a step to substantially reduced the use of mercury in ASGM, ASMAN saw the introduction of the ThermEx Retort by the United Nations Industrial Development.
Organisation (UNIDO) in collaboration with the Minerals Commission of Ghana, as a right move; but the accompanying challenges posed by the use the gadget (retort) had not been evaluated, for subsequent enforcement.
It is open knowledge that mercury exposure to ASGM communities and the miners, is associated with adverse health effects on the inhabitants and operators some of which include kidney dysfunction, autoimmune and neurological symptoms.
ASMAN therefore wish to propose that whilst the World Bank continues to use Round Table Fora to solving remediation of the contaminations; the EPA should adopt an all-inclusive approach (with small scale miners), to produce a reference document for remediation and enhance the fallen image of the ASM Sector in Ghana.
ASMAN also takes this opportunity to remind the Chief Programme Officer, Mining Department of EPA, Mr. Ransford Sekyi of the Agency’s assurance to institute a customized version of the AKOBEN program for the Small Scale Mining Sector in Ghana.
Nii Adjetey-Kofi Mensah
Executive Director – ASMAN
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