Sunday, 16 April 2017

Should Gold Mining Companies In Ghana Post Reclamation Bonds Upfront?

With the benefit of hindsight, it was clearly a grave error of judgement on the part of our nation's leaders to agree to allow surface gold mining in Ghana.

The idea was first mooted by the World Bank during the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) era. Prior to its implementation the existing policy was that all gold mining in Ghana was done underground.

That new policy increased investment in the gold mining sector - but at great cost to society: as we are all now discovering to our horror as surface gold miners destroy forests and pollute the sources of our nation's drinking water supplies.

Surface gold mining has wrought havoc environmentally in many parts of  rural  Ghana - of apocalyptic proportions in magnitude in some areas.

Today, we face a possible future as a water-stressed nation - because illegal gold miners have been destroying watersheds, poisoning soils, streams, rivers and other water bodies with impunity, over the years, across vast swathes of the Ghanaian countryside.

The Okyenhene, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin, is right to point out that perhaps it might be in the long-term interest of our nation to ban even legally sanctioned small-scale gold mining too.

There is no question that virtually the whole small-scale sector operates  irresponsibly environmentally. The facts on ground in their concessions bear that out clearly.

If the record of the small-scale gold mining sector is examined closely, its many shortcomings will show how right the Okyenhene is, in recommending that it should be banned too.

Indeed, if we are to protect the remainder of our nation's valuable natural capital, the wisest action to take would be to ban surface gold mining in Ghana.

Drastic and radical action is definitely needed to halt the egregious environmental degradation being caused by gold mining companies across the nation.

 If we allow the greedy and selfish individuals who benefit from the destruction of Ghana's natural capital to lobby against the fight agsinst illegal gold mining, we will fail in the daunting task of protecting what is left of our nation's natural heritage for present and future generations of our people.

If Thailand makes over U.S.$40 billion a year from the over 30 million tourists it hosts annually, could  our homeland Ghana not make a quarter of that sum from eco-tourism, anchored on the beautiful countryside we are allowing the gold industry to destroy in such egregious fashion?

Far better to ban all surface gold mining and replace the lost revenues ftom that with revenue  from eco-tourism - a sustainable industry that will create wealth that stays here and jobs galore for younger generation Ghanaians.

The government must get Parliament to quickly amend the current Mining Act and ensure that reclamation bonds - that are properly costed and set at realistically valued rates, which can actually pay for the cost of the reclamation of land in mined out areas in gold concessions - are posted up-front by all gold mining companies in Ghana, whatever their sector-category in the industry.

In light of the abominable and unpardonable pollution and environmental degradation now going on, nothing else will do, alas. If a cost-benefit analysis is done it will probably show that our homeland Ghana would be  much better off with the gold left in the ground. Demanding that all gold mining companies actually pay reclamation bonds upfront to the Minerals Commission now makes perfect sense for our nation. Definitely. Full stop.
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