Residents of Prestea in the Prestea-Huni Valley District of the Western Region have kicked against the operations of surface mining in their communities.
They describe as devastating the environmental and health damages caused when mining companies engage in surface mining.
Large tracts of farm land and water bodies which are sources of drinking water have been destroyed.
Prestea and five other communities in the catchment area are noted for major mining areas in the country.
Before 2002, mining companies in the communities were doing underground mining which residents say came with little damage to property.
Prestea could boast of about seven spring water bodies in those days. Today, the situation has changed for the worse due to high pollution cause by surface mining.
Though two of the seven water sources, ‘Bronisuo’ and ‘Abodwise’ have been converted into hand-pump facilities, residents say they are fed up with the destruction.
To mitigate the situation, the Concerned Citizens Association of Prestea, a civil society group, was formed by
residents to protect the land and rest of the environment.
General Secretary, Dominic Nyame, tells LUV News government should intervene to halt further destruction of the
“If surface mining comes to an area where there is a village, those village farmers will be displaced. Before it moves from one point to the other it has destroyed property. I think it should not be entertained in this country,” he said.
Mining is the major employer of most residents of Prestea and surrounding communities. Despite the negative impact of mining, the call of residents is not a stop to mining in general but a particular type of mining–surface.
“The underground mine does not affect the environment much, though they also use blasting. The fumes and dust are suppressed underground so there is little effect on the surface where people inhabit…but when it comes to the surface, the smoke goes anywhere it likes. It is an open death to all of us,” Mr. Nyame emphasized.
This type of mining – underground – for them does not render the land unusable; farmers will not lose their livelihoods often accompanied by unsatisfactory compensation from mining companies.
Maame Adjoa is a petty trader whose husband works in the mines. Mining is key to their survival but she wants government to limit mining to underground operation.
“If it doesn’t stop, very soon most of the cocoa areas in the area will be deserted because he [farmer] will not suffer and later get it destroyed,” she said.
Meanwhile, Abakomahene of Prestea-Hemang Traditional Area, Nana Kwaw Nsowaah, bemoans government’s posture to preventing mining companies to desist from surface mining.
“What government is doing to us is not good. You know that our politicians today they come and say this, then the next day is different,” he lamented.
He added that, “because they [mining companies] are paying huge sums of money to the government, instead of them [government] coming to our aid, they are doing other things. We are suffering,” he summed up.
Anglogold Ashanti, for instance, after doing surface mining for many years, is also going underground.
It would be partnering Randgold Resources Limited under a joint venture where they will employ a technology expected to dig deeper for ore, reducing environmental damage in the process.
By :Prince Appiah