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50,000 Chinese are engaged in illegal mining in Ghana –Report

A study conducted by the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (FORIG-CSIR), has indicated that about 50,000 Chinese miners had left China for Ghana to engage in illegal mining, popularly called “galamsey.”

The Chinese miners are from Shanglin County in Guangxi Province where mining is a tradition.

According to the findings, the Chinese, who have established more than 2,000 mining operations and introduced intensification in the illegal mining activities, forms 66 per cent, while local (native to the community) is 20 per cent with others, (non-native to the community) forming 38.7 per cent.

Dr (Mrs) Beatrice Darko Obiri, a principal research scientist of the FORIG-CSIR, disclosed these at a symposium organised by the institute as part of efforts to strengthen relations with end users of its products.

She pointed out that the ban on galamsey resulted in a massive improvement in water quality, a stop of land degradation and destruction of farm lands, enhanced soil fertility, reduced pits, improved cocoa production and access to farm lands among others.

Dr Darko Obiri, however, viewed that the ban worked in the short term, “but need to be intensified as many displaced illegal miners have no meaningful alternative jobs”, and that, “they are sitting on the fence to switch back into action”.

She observed that weak law enforcement, complexities with inflow of foreign nationals, technology, equipment, labour and finance in the illegal operations were very alarming.

On the communities’ willingness to pay to restore degraded mined sites, she said the research indicated about 82.78 per cent were willing to pay saying, “the restoration of galamsey-degraded lands in Ghana is possible if a bottom up approach is adopted where local communities are put at the centre of affairs and made to own restoration processes through community-based payment for ecosystem services-like scheme.”

On his part, Dr James K. Korang, research scientist, touching on utilizing bioenergy to save the environment, realized that about 60 per cent of Ghana’s rural population still depended on bioenergy mostly charcoal and firewood source from the wild, and that to meet the growing needs of such key energy source,” there is the need for sustainable production.”

He, therefore, proposed a sustainable wood fuel production workshop to bring all involved in the wood fuel value chain (investors, researchers, transporters, producers, regulators and consumers) to discuss the way forward for this important energy source.

FROM KINGSLEY E. HOPE, FUMESUA

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