Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences
ISSN (Print): 2328-3912 ISSN (Online): 2328-3920 Website: Editor-in-chief: Alejandro González Medina
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Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences. 2015, 3(3), 81-94
DOI: 10.12691/aees-3-3-3
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Environmental Impacts of Mining: A Study of Mining Communities in Ghana

Albert K. Mensah1, , Ishmail O. Mahiri1, Obed Owusu2, Okoree D. Mireku3, Ishmael Wireko4 and Evans A. Kissi5

1Department of Geography, Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya

2Department of Economics, Dalhousie University, 6214 University Avenue, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

3Department of Geography and Regional Planning, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana

4Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan, 101 Defeinbaker Place, Saskatoon, Canada

5Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Georg-August-University of Gottingen, Germany

Pub. Date: July 02, 2015

Cite this paper:
Albert K. Mensah, Ishmail O. Mahiri, Obed Owusu, Okoree D. Mireku, Ishmael Wireko and Evans A. Kissi. Environmental Impacts of Mining: A Study of Mining Communities in Ghana. Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences. 2015; 3(3):81-94. doi: 10.12691/aees-3-3-3


Mineral exploitation contributes significantly to economic growth and development in most world economies. In Africa, Ghana is the second largest gold producer, contributing to about 5.7% of the country’s GDP. The mining sector in Ghana consists of both small-scale and large-scale mining, each of which has varying environmental impacts. This paper provides an exposition on the environmental impacts of mining activities in Ghana. The paper mainly focused on the mining activities in Prestea in the western region of the country. The data collection involved both primary and secondary sources. These included research tools such as review of relevant literature including policies and legal documents, participant observation, in-depth interviews with mining communities and government officials, environmental assessments of various mining sites in the study area. The findings from the study showed that mining activities, especially that resulting from illegal small-scale mining (popularly known as ‘galamsey’) deplete environmental resources such as water, soil, the landscape, vegetation, the ecosystem, among others. The paper concluded that major rivers in the region have been heavily polluted, especially by illegal small-scale mining; land in areas surrounding mines has been rendered bare and susceptible to increased erosion and loss of viability for agricultural purposes, among other uses; increased clearing of vegetation for mining areas has adversely altered the hydrological regimes and/or patterns in the western region of Ghana; important soil organisms have been destroyed and stable soil aggregates disrupted and eventually depriving the soil of organic matter and low levels of macronutrients and soil fertility necessary for plant growth and crop production. This inevitably leads to pending food insecurity in most parts of Ghana, in the long term. On the basis of the above, the paper recommended that there should be effective community participation in environmental decision making to ensure sustainable mining activities; easing of the registration process for small-scale mines; addressing the various weaknesses in the policies and their enforcement in the mining sector; establishment of environmental oversight groups in mining communities; and create environmental awareness campaigns and/or education in mining communities.

Ghana Prestea gold mining environmental impacts community participation

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