The Nuclear Chemistry and Environmental Research Centre (NCERC) under the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission has called for the creation of a remediation fund for the mining sector.
The call was made in the quest to find a lasting solution to issues of water contamination and environmental degradation challenges which is as a result of illegal mining activities across the mining regions.
The NCERC conducts environmental research which focuses on groundwater/surface water quality monitoring, soil and air quality monitoring, pesticide residue in food and other biological samples, as well as environmental remediation. The Centre employs nuclear techniques such as stable isotope hydrology and atomic absorption spectroscopy in its work.
The Manager in charge of NCERC Dr. Samuel Afful told GAEC Press in an interview that government need to enforce laws that governs the small scale mining sector and also ensure effective supervision of small scale mining activities that have been duly licensed.
This action according to him will help reduce the high rate of environmental degradation, gold smuggling, occupational hazard, unemployment and among others that will subsequently boost the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Giving insight on what form the “Remediation Fund” should take he proposed that, similar to the Heritage Fund, the Fund must be a constitutional provision that requires small scale gold mining firms to pay a remediation tax.
He also recommended that, all sales of gold and other minerals should be channeled through the Minerals Commission that will oversee the deduction and payment of the remediation levy on behalf of mining companies to ensure compliance. “This is the only way to escape the high cost involved in treating polluted surface and underground water as well as degraded lands.
Citing an example, Dr. Afful Stressed that, portions of the river bed of both River Pra and Ankobra at Prestia; in the western region of Ghana should be excavated in order to remove the contaminants. “The dangers are that, the rivers flow into the sea and in effect, the marine waters will eventually be contaminated by chemicals”
He is confident that, the Atomic Energy Commission has the human capacity and resources to help curb the regrettable situation if funding is made available.
He called on government to consider setting up a Mining Remediation Fund and some other viable initiatives in order to curb the menace.