Five Artisanal Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) companies in Ghana have received mercury-free processing equipment.
Speaking at the handing over function, Mr Yaw Britwum Opoku, Responsible Mining Programme Manager, Solidaridad West Africa, said the Promoting Mercury-Free Mining Project was a three-year United States Department of State-funded initiative implemented by PACT, a US-based Non-Governmental Organization and Solidaridad West Africa.
The project was geared towards reducing the use of mercury in Ghana’s small-scale gold mining sector through education, introduction of better technology, strengthen equipment supply chains and demonstrating business incentives for mercury-free gold production.
The equipment worth $60,000 include; gold katcha, gold konka, gold cube and gas fuelled smelter that would be set up in Dakete, Obeng, Bazuri, Agya Pa Ye and Beaver Mines, all in the Western region. These companies would serve as demonstration sites for other Mines in their Districts, Municipality and Regions to learn from.
Mercury-free processing systems
“According to the World Bank, it was seen as the most indispensable rural non-farm activity fundamental to achieving all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In Ghana, the contribution of small-scale mining to total gold production increased from 2.2% in 1989 to about a third in recent years. The sector also employs about one million people directly (51% women) and supports about four million people indirectly,” said Mr Yaw Britwum Opoku.
Mr Opoku emphasized that the project would hopefully support small-scale gold mining companies to test mercury-free processing systems to produce gold, which could be marketed as mercury-free. The project would also carry out a community outreach and media campaign to educate small-scale gold mining communities on the dangers of mercury, responsible use of mercury and mercury-free technologies, promote the procurement of mercury-free processing equipment by other Mines in the project Districts by facilitating engagements between them, financial institutions and mercury-free equipment providers.
“In order to ensure that majority of miners transition from the use of mercury to mercury-free processing technologies, we would like to appeal to donor organizations to support research organizations, such as the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) to develop mercury-free mining technologies that are affordable, portable, easy to use and with relatively high ore recovery rates. This, would go a long way to ensure that Ghana met its goal of reducing mercury use in small-scale gold mining to 30% by 2030, in accordance with the Minamata Convention on mercury,” said Mr Opoku.