Ghana’s mining sector contributes about US$2 billion annually to the economy, a lecturer at the University of Cape Coast has said.
The sector also provides about 17.5 per cent of total tax earnings, 27.6 per cent of revenue and employs about 1.282 million people, Mr. Ernest Afrifa, a lecturer at the Department of Environmental Science of the University, said at seminar on Saturday.
About one million people obtain their income from small-scale mining while 282,000 are in large-scale mining with several multi-national companies in the sector.
Mining and cocoa have been the country’s largest foreign earners for many years. Ghana started producing oil 2010. The main minerals produced in Ghana are gold, diamond, manganese and bauxite.
Mr. Afrifa said mining involved large-scale multinationals, operators of small-scale and the artisanal miners whose
activities were negatively affecting the environment and people living in mining communities and the country at large.
He noted that 75 per cent of major rivers in the country, which hitherto did not need serious treatment before consumption, were now unsafe as a result of mining activities.
Mr Afrifa said 147 of the 160 streams and rivers in the Obuasi area in the Ashanti as well as about 117 rivers and streams in Tarkwa in the Western Region, two important mining areas in the country, were all highly polluted as a result of mining activities.
He asked mining companies to make water protection a top priority and advised that mining activities should be regulated and reduced to save Ghana’s water bodies for posterity.