THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION IN THE TARKWA PRESTEA MINING AREAS IN THE WESTERN REGION OF GHANA
The study was designed to investigate the impacts of mining on mining areas with specific reference to Tarkwa Prestea mining area. The descriptive survey was used for the study with a sample size of 40 people. The data collection instrument was questionnaire. Data collected was processed using the Statistical Product for Service Solutions (SPSS). Findings of the assessment indicate that, most Tarkwa Prestea mining communities have benefited in diverse ways from the company. It was established that, Tarkwa Prestea mining has a community relation‘s policy which shows the company‘s commitment in meeting its corporate social responsibilities. Specific benefits identified during the study include the construction and regular maintenance of access roads, employment for the youth within the area, provision of scholarship for brilliant but needy students, established and implemented alternative livelihood programmes and the provision of skills/vocational training. In addition, social corporate responsibility of the company is evident in the construction of school blocks, clinics and social/community centers. It was concluded that Tarkwa Prestea mining has established and maintained a good relationship with local communities in the mine operational area. It has undoubtedly improved the living standard of the people through the provision of some basic necessities of life as indicated above.
- Background to the Study
Mining operations in Ghana dates back to the pre-colonial era in historical towns like Tarkwa, Prestea, Obuasi and Konongo just to mention but a few. Some studies believe that mining has over the years contributed immensely towards Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and socio-economic development of Ghana in terms of provision of employment (direct and indirect) and social infrastructure. However, some studies also report that the negative effects of mining such as water, air and noise pollution and general deprivation of fertile lands for agriculture purposes leave the people much poorer in relative terms than they were before. The overall effect of mining is therefore negative (Antwi-Boasiako, 2003). Surface mining is used when deposits of commercially useful minerals or rock are found near the surface. The mines are typically enlarged until either the mineral deposit is exhausted, or the cost of removing larger volumes of overburden makes further mining uneconomic. The main types of surface mining in gold production are strip mining and open-pit mining. Open-pit mining is the type of surface mining that has been used by most mining companies in Ghana including Tarkwa prestea mining. This form of mining provides faster and cheaper means of extracting gold than underground mining and at the same time, mining workers face lesser risk of dying from toxic fumes which makes it safer. However, surface mining has a greater impact on the environment due to the destruction of surface landscapes, and as such greatly affects the lives of mining communities in terms of socio-economic wellbeing and their health.
1.1 Problem Statement
World Bank Group (2021) points that mining companies provide their communities with direct and indirect employment, skills training, health and educational amenities, improved social and economic infrastructure, and support to small and medium business enterprises. However, there is another school of taught that mining operations have adverse effects on the local population in affecting their traditional means of livelihood, influx of newcomers to the area, which put pressure on existing but inadequate social amenities, rising cases of social vices (e.g. teenage pregnancy), and causing environmental problems ranging from waste rock and tailing disposal, land disturbance, air, water and noise pollution and ground vibration as a result of blasting. They therefore argue that problems that are associated with mining activities far outweigh the benefits.
A careful observation of Tarkwa Prestea mining activities at the the communities in terms of social responsibilities reveals that most catchment communities have socio-economically been improved although there are other confronting challenges which are yet to be met. For example, in attempt to improve educational standards in mining area, Tarkwa Prestea mining has supported about one hundred (100) senior high school students in the Akyempim, Benso and Mpohor (HBB) operational areas for the past three years. Tarkwa Prestea mining has also constructed basic school blocks at Old Subri, Akyempim, and Ningo and has supported about fifty (50) teachers with monthly allowance package during the same period. In attempt to ensure smooth transportation of people, goods and services, Tarkwa Prestea mining regularly maintains major roads like Akyempim-Ateiku road, Benso- Manso road and Mpohor Cold Store bypass road. It is significant to note however that the expectations of a sizeable number of the youth in terms of acquiring skills and improvement in income levels have still not been met in full. For example, out of about five hundred (500) youth who applied for training under the Golden Star Skill Training and Employable Programme (GSSTEP) in 2021, only about sixty had the opportunity to acquire training in one field or the other. Again, under the Sustainable Livelihood Programme piloted in 2010 and 2021 respectively at Akyempim and Ningo/Subriso recorded just about 20% success.
Generally, the main objective of this study is to provide an overview of the impacts that Tarkwa Prestea mining operations have on the lives of the people living in mining areas.
Specifically, the study seeks to meet the following specific objectives;
- To investigate the the extent of mining in Tarkwa Prestea.
- To identify the sources of livelihood of the communities in the GSWL the communities.
- To assess the impact of mining pollution on the livelihood of the communities.
- To suggest ways of enhancing the living standards of these mining
This study is based upon the following research questions:
- What is the impact of Tarkwa Prestea mining‘s operations on the livelihoods of catchment communities and the environment?
- What benefits have accrued to the people/communities in Tarkwa Prestea?
- To what extent has GSWL impacted on the livelihood of the people in mining area?
- In what ways, can the living standard of the people in GSWL catchment area be enhanced?
The study is important to assess the actual contributions of Tarkwa Prestea mining to mining areas and the extent to which the living standards of the people have been improved. It is believed that this will give a clear indication to policy makers and legislators both at the centralized and decentralized levels to be able to make informed decisions not only to consolidate gains but minimize losses if not eradicating them completely. The study will also give the regulatory bodies like the Mineral Resource Commissions and the Environmental Protection Agency, the bases to review their mining procedures and guidelines to ensure environmental sustainability for both present and future generations. The government, chiefs, civil society organizations and other interest groups would thus be informed on the real or opportunity cost of mining through an objective cost-benefit analysis of mining operations.
The study is delimited to the operational area of Tarkwa Prestea mining. In Ghana. Tarkwa Prestea mining operations cut across boundaries of three districts of Mpohor Wassa East (Akyempim and Mpohor), Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipal (Benso) and the Ahanta West (Prestea and Awonakrom) districts. This study however limits its scope to only instructors of the Mpohor Wassa East district and Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipal Assemblies.
1.7 Organization of the study
The study is organized into five chapters including chapter one. Chapter two provides a review of related literature on the impacts of mining on catchment communities and the environment. Chapter three discusses the methodology employed for the study while chapter four deals with
empirical results and discussions of the findings of the research conducted. Chapter five covers a summary of findings, conclusion of the study, and appropriate recommendations.[email protected][email protected]