Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Wassa Association of Communities affected by Mining (WACAM) an environmental and human rights advocacy non-governmental organization yesterday launched a report on the determinatination of heavy metals in water bodies in the Tarkwa and obuasi mining areas in Ghana. The five chapter manual with sixty-one pages was authored by Mr. Samuel Obiri a Research Fellow and Executive Director of Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis (CEIA) and supported by Oxfam America. The new manual provide strict insight, how and the effects of polluting streams of mining communities with chemical seepages, cyanide spillages and more bizarre kind of water pollution which involves the discharge of faecal matters into community streams. At the launch in Accra, the Executive Director of the Wassa Association of Communities affected by Mining (WACAM), Mr. Daniel Owusu-Koranteng stated emphatically that, the call came for the research when his outfit received various complaints from both affected community members and media on some negative activities of some mining firms in the country such as Newmont Gold Ghana Limited Ahafo mines in 2005 and AngloGold Ashanti Idauprime mines. “We worked and developed campaigns on a number of cyanide spillage of mining companies including the two cyanide spillages of Goldfields Ghana Limited in 200which affected river Asuman and other two cyanide spillages of Gold Star Resources in 2004and 2006 among others.”
Mr. Owusu-Koranteng further added that, the new report started with a research on community perception on their rivers. In Obuasi mining areas, communities perceived 145 rivers out of the 160 rivers listed as polluted whilst in Tarkwa mining area perceived all 117 listed rivers as polluted. He said the report on the determination of heavy metals in water bodies in Tarkwa and Obuasi mining areas concludes strictly that, most rivers in these areas are polluted with elevated levels of arsenic,manganese,cadmium,iron,copper,mercury,zinc and lead which above the World Health organization and GEPA permissible levels. “For example, a research revealed that river Nyam which is a very important river in Obuasi had arsenic concentrations of 1, 356 times higher than that of WHO value and 13.56 times higher than GEPA value.”
WACAM Boss called on government to use the new research manual as a wake-up call to act against the pollution of water bodies by mining operations, which have serious health implications on people in affected mining communities in the country and also engage effectively with regulatory agencies to hold polluting companies accountable. “There are also many loop-holes in our minerals and mining Act such as failure to provide laws on cyanide spillages which is very vital”. He again called on government to strengthen the Minerals and Mining Law with strong punitive measures against environmental pollution among other negative practices in mining. “We are reiterating the objectives of protecting our water bodies and most especially stand against mining in forest reserves and should revoke the environmental permit provided to Newmont to mine in Ajenua Bepo Forest reserves which serves as watershed”. He commended Oxfam America for supporting the mining and water project of WACAM and CEIA to undertake the research.
Mr. Ibrahim Aidara, the West Africa Regional Governance officer of Oxfam America said is common sense to make water precious because access to water is a fundamental human right and should be considered as an integral part of any sustainable livelihoods and poverty reduction program. It’s also known that we are living in environment where water resources are scares. He said less than 40% of people in the rural areas of Ghana have access to clean water, therefore it was very important manage water bodies with level of responsibility.
Oxfam America, also called on Ghanaian CSOs, Government and companies to champion the popularization and engagement on the implementation of the ECOWAS mining directives to help derive the true wealth in mining and negative impact from mining operations. He commended WACAM and CEIA for their giant steps.

BY: Michael Amedor

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