Vice President Kwesi Amissah Arthur, at the weekend reiterated government’s determination to tackle the problem of illegal mining.
With reference to the apprehensive reports by the scientist of the negative health consequences of illegal mining, the Vice President in a strong term decried the activities and expressed government’s concern about the health of the people in the illegal mining areas.
“The issue of illegal mining is not just a simple one of the origin of the people engaging in it. It is about the environmental impact of the activity on human beings. So whether a Ghanaian or foreigner is engaging in illegal mining, a problem is being created”, the Vice President said.
Speaking at the 5th congregation of the University of Mines and Technology at Tarkwa, in the Western Region, Vice President Amissah Arthur said the illegal mining activity has involved the digging up of river channels, diversion of rivers, stripping of surface soil, using of heavy equipment and surface trenching.
“I have seen a report by apprehensive scientist on the consequences of illegal mining on water quality; water that is unsafe for domestic use and unhealthy to support fish and other aquatic life, of degraded land unable to produce food, pools of water serving as mosquito breeding sites and child delinquencies”, the Vice President said.
He said the health of people living within the illegal mining communities such as the one in which the university s located is a major concern to the government, pointing out that the mercury that is freely used to process gold is poisonous to humans and get into the food chain when accumulated in the fish.
There is also the problem of deforestation, which is taking place at a rate that posses the danger of desertification. There are also child delinquencies, which comes with long term negative effect on human capacity development.
Vice president Amissah Arthur expressed an urgent need to halt the devastation of the environment and reverse the destructive trend.
He stated for instance that if this were not done, the Pra River basin will be chemically contaminated and it would not be able to support human life within the next five years.
He urged the university to reach out to the local communities on the dangers of illegal mining and educate them on the best sustainable mining method to improve their efficiency and reduce the destructive path they are already on and reverse the environmental damage.
The Vice President commended the University for introducing compulsory courses in Basic French, Business Entrepreneurship, Principles of Economics, Management and Public Relations, saying that, the courses, which constitutes 20 per cent of the university’s programme, will make UMaT graduates versatile in the job market both in Ghana and in neighbouring Francophone countries.
A total of 1,762 students graduated with first and post-graduate degrees as well as doctorates level. The students of the university come from Ghana as well as countries such as Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Mali and China, among others.
The University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa, began as the Tarkwa Technology Institute in 1952. It was re-named the Tarkwa School of Mines, and became a facility of the Kwame Nkrumah of Science and Technology (KNUST) in 1976.
It was elevated to a University College in 2001 and became the 6th public university in Ghana. It is the only mining University in the West Africa sub- region and offers specialized programmes in mining and related disciplines and provides technical expertise and innovation, which are critical needs of the Ghanaian economy.