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Mon, Jan

galamsey

  • Dear Nyaba,

    Once upon a time, a cat had made the acquaintance of a mouse, and had said so much to her about the great love that he felt for her, that at last the mouse agreed that they should live together. "But we must make preparations for the rains, or else we shall suffer from hunger," said the cat, "and you, little mouse, cannot venture out everywhere, or in the end you will be caught in a trap."

  • Small Scale Mining (SSM) has evolved from the artisanal stage through the use of rudimentary equipment such as shovels, pick axes and sluiced boards to currently semi-merchandised operations involving the use of equipment such as excavators, bulldozers and Washing Plants.

    Government on Thursday 16th August 2018 announced a roadmap for the lifting of the ban on small-mining. This came after an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining that was constituted in March 2017 placed a ban on all small scale mining. This decision of government to lift the ban on small scale mining should meet the value for chain activities to ensure the sustainability of small scale mining and the development of communities.

  • The Graphic Communications Group Ltd (GCGL), the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) and other media partners will, tomorrow, Tuesday, April 4, 2017, launch the media coalition against illegal mining, popularly referred to as galamsey.

  • MCAG believes galamsey is as a result of system and leadership failure and so building capacity of stakeholders to stem the tide is vital.

    As part of efforts to stimulate community and institutional ownership of the sustained campaign against galamsey, The Media Coalition Against Galamsey (MCAG) with support from Star Ghana continues its community engagement with focus on the Western Region after returning from Wa.


  • Written By Kwame Asiedu - According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “reducing the public health impacts of outdoor air pollution requires addressing the main sources of outdoor pollution, including inefficient fossil fuel combustion from motor vehicle transport, power generation and improving energy efficiency in buildings and manufacturing.” In the last week, a report by Swiss NGO Public Eye indicated that, businesses in Europe are exporting highly polluting, high-sulphur diesel to the African market that could never be sold at pumps in their home countries, exploiting weak fuel standards there.

    Having taken a critical look at the said report, I came to the conclusion that, in essence neither the exporting companies, nor the local importers were breaking any laws. They were only exploiting our local ineptitude and failure to care for our own lives. Public health in many jurisdictions is a joint effort between medics, parastatals and independent regulatory authorities who are tasked with setting standards and policing same. That we have very lucid standards locally is an indictment on these regulatory institutions. Increasingly, it is becoming obvious that those we entrust our destiny to, are often not interested in our welfare or obtuse to the task we place on their shoulders. On the other hand, businesses with no ethical considerations are exploiting this lack of leadership and foresight, enriching themselves in the process whilst increasing the public health burden of the people.

    Listening to the stakeholders in the diesel importation and distribution business on various radio stations even made me cringe. The laissez-faire manner in which they answered questions was a clear indication that, they either were not aware of the health impact of dirty fuel or they were more interested in their profits than the harm their actions caused. Sadly, the view of the CEO of the National Petroleum Authority Moses Asaga was also dismissive. In his opinion, the onus of obtaining clean fuel, rested with the populace; as the only answer was for us to pay more. By the end of his interview, the only question that came to mind was; what have we done to deserve such supine leadership behaviour? In the end, I came to the conclusion that, the way forward was to intensify public education as a means of empowering the masses.

    Burning fossil fuels high in sulphur produces a by-product sulphur dioxide. About 99% of the sulphur dioxide in the air comes from human sources. Sulphur dioxide is a gas. It is invisible and has a nasty, sharp smell. It reacts easily with other substances to form harmful compounds, such as sulphuric acid, sulphurous acid and sulphate particles. All of which when inhaled can cause corrosion in the tissues of the lungs leading to a number of respiratory ailments.  It irritates the nose, throat, and airways to cause coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, or a tight feeling around the chest. The effects of sulfur dioxide are felt very quickly and most people would feel the worst symptoms in 10 or 15 minutes after breathing it in. Those most at risk of developing problems if exposed to sulphur dioxide are people with asthma or similar conditions. If you have ever had an instant headache on a trotro with obnoxious exhaust fumes or immediately after overtaking a smoking lorry on the highway, you now know the reason.

    Often short term exposure can be reversed but in the long term, irreversible damage can be done to the epithelium of the respiratory system leading to chronic conditions like pulmonary emphysema, chronic obstructive airway disease (COPD) or ultimately respiratory collapse. What really irks me is that those who are party to this are not exempt from the risks anyway. Unfortunately, the atmosphere has no physical boundaries making inhalational pollutants a threat to all.

    Sad to say, many working in lowly paid jobs in the petroleum industry like fuel attendants, diesel tanker drivers etc. may have these symptoms on a regular basis without even knowing the underlying cause. Even worse off are the workers and inhabitants of areas plagued by illegal mining (galamsey). Many of the machinery used are second hand and of low efficiency, running on high sulphur diesel fuel with poor combustion. The result of this is that apart from the fumes they are immediately exposed to, they inhale dust from the mines and pollute the water bodies with their trade. In the end these societies are burdened with a multitude of health problems that cannot be compensated for by the activities they assume are earning them a living.

     

     

    To think that in 1999, the average sulfur content of diesel in Australia was 1300 parts per million (ppm), reducing to 500 ppm in 2002, further dropping to 50 ppm by 2009 with premium diesel containing only 10ppm; it is sacrilegious for our country to permit the importation of fuel with sulfur content of between 2,200 and 3000ppm. This is what the likes of Senyo Hosi want us to believe is nothing to worry about and laugh off.

    For me I don’t blame people who directly benefit for their views on the public health impact of their actions. I however seek to remind us all that playing Russian roulette with one’s health is not just irresponsible but a reflection of a society that has suffered a catastrophic loss of values with policy makers who have chosen to turn a blind eye. Not long ago we were all living testaments to the Volkswagen emissions scandal where the car maker was found to have installed "defeat devices" - software that allows cars to cheat in emissions tests, making them appear cleaner than they actually are. The impact of this on public health worldwide lead to the recall of millions of automobiles and eventually affected many other car makers with huge penalty payments in countries where regulation doesn’t even allow sulphur content of above 50ppm. Can one imagine the pollution these vehicles would be causing with fuel containing 3000ppm of sulphur?

    Surely institutions like the Ghana Standards Board and Environmental Protection Agency ought to know of the advances being made worldwide in decreasing sulphur content of diesel fuel. If so how come, they have looked on for such a scandal to go on without butting an eyelid? Does it always have to take a foreign entity to expose or disrespect and rancor for our own lives? The thought that the answer to every question of human endeavor locally boils down to money and ability to pay, defeats the investment made national and personally in the training of technocrats. Truth is the ex-pump price of diesel is lower in many of the countries with low sulphur content than it is in Ghana. The line that money is the main driver of this public health debacle is an attempt to play on our intelligence. The true reason for this is lack of joined up thinking and a crux lack of leadership will to protect our environment.

  • Written By Enimil Ashon - This week, the threat of the imminence of a major irreversible water crisis in Ghana resurfaced. The emphasis, this time, has been on the contribution of galamsey activities to the pollution of our water-bodies. This column returns to the issue not because the writer has any hopes of attracting attention and action from the powers that control our lives in this country. I do so only to bare my sad visage to the nation and shed a few tears.

  • A mining pit that collapsed at Nsuta near Prestea in the Prestea/Huni-Valley District in the Western Region last Sunday, trapping about 22 illegal miners to death, has been covered.

  • In April this year, the Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, told some Ghanaians abroad that jailing the Chinese illegal mining ‘queen’ for engaging in illegal mining was not important as it was not going to solve Ghana's economic problems.

    Mr President, I greet you from my neighbourhood where the roads look more like egg crates than routes for cars.

  • Somewhere in 2008/9 or so, the Chemistry Department of KNUST organized an excursion to AngloGold Limited in Obuasi, Kumasi. As University Chemistry Students, I was thinking we are going to see something magnificent as far as extraction of gold is concerned. That we shall be shown the practical layout of electrochemistry or other extractive methodology involved in gold refinement. Who knows, even see some chemicals for the first time. As we would be witnessing the mechanism unfold before us.

  • The bodies of four individuals have reportedly been retrieved from a galamsey pit at Patransa in the Asante Akyem Central Municipality in the Ashanti Region.

  • Written By Godfried Kwaku Yormesor - If there is any Ghanaian citizen who claims to be oblivious of the menace or potential dangers posed to the national psyche by the escalation of illegal small scale - mining activities popularly dubbed “galamsey”, he is neither realistic nor fair to himself.

  • Governments across Africa are trying to work out how to manage a sector that, whatever its risks, provides a livelihood for many of their citizens, and which could be harnessed as a source of revenues.

    Billions of dollars’ worth of gold is being smuggled out of Africa every year through the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East – a gateway to markets in Europe, the United States and beyond, this according to a Reuters investigative analysis.

  • Suzy Kassem, in Rise Up and Salute the Sun opines “Pick a leader who will make their citizens proud. One who will stir the hearts of the people, so that the sons and daughters of a given nation strive to emulate their leader's greatness. Only then will a nation be truly great, when a leader inspires and produces citizens worthy of becoming future leaders, honourable decision makers and peacemakers. And in these times, a great leader must be extremely brave. Their leadership must be steered only by their conscience, not a bribe.”

  • Barely three days after its inauguration, the 50-man task force of the Ashanti Regional chapter of the Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Mining last Thursday confiscated a number of equipment, including excavators, being used by the illegal miners.

  • A mining taskforce has arrested 10 illegal Chinese miners within the Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipality of the Western Region.

  • If we can’t deal decisively with the alpha, beta, gamma and delta invisible forces with the full force of the police, BNI, military and paramilitary resources, then:

  • A lot has been said and continues to be said about the scourge of galamsey (illegal small-scale mining) in the past week.

    The sight of water bodies looking viscous and brownish is beyond detestable. No sign of life can be seen in these waters. And to think that these water bodies are the source of our daily sustenance is frightening.

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