WACAM Advocates Thorough Review Of Mining Law

Mrs. Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, Associate Executive Director of WACAM, an NGO, has stressed the need for a thorough review of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703) to address what she calls “gaps and limitations” in the regulatory framework.

According to her, the law was silent on cyanide spillages, lacks clear provision for “no go zones” to protect communities and national landmarks as well as demarcation of active mining operations from communities, bodies and protected areas such forest zones of the country.

Mrs. Owusu-Koranteng made the call at a sensitization workshop held in Sunyani for stakeholders including community members, representatives of mining regulatory agencies among others.

The day’s workshop was designed to educate the participants on the limitations and strengths of the mining law, and also enhance the relationship between mining communities and regulatory agencies.

She said mining in the country had become a development controversy, adding that “even though the sector contributes about six per cent of GDP and account for almost 40 per cent of foreign exchange earnings, these benefits notwithstanding, surface mining is associated with huge problems.”

“Mining has given birth to conflicts, water pollution, health risks, environmental degradation, livelihood losses, communities’ displacement and abandoned pits.  Its associated social, environmental and economic problems have become developmental challenges to the country,” she stated.

Mrs. Owusu-Koranteng said the discussions on mining in the country were mostly centered on revenues with little emphasis on emanated environmental pollution, human rights abuses as a result of “low consciousness, ignorance and high illiteracy level in mining communities.”

A research scientist, Samuel Obiri said human health risk to diseases due to exposure to toxic chemicals such as arsenic, mercury, lead and cadmium in water bodies in mining communities was alarming.

He mentioned cardiovascular system (hypertension and shock), liver and kidney failure, leukaemia, infertility (men and women) and spontaneous abortions in women as some of the sub-chronic and chronic exposures to toxic chemicals in mining areas.   From Daniel Dzirasah, Sunyani

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