The government of Ghana has approved and procured a mercury-free mineral processing technology for small-scale and community mining programmes to create sustainable jobs and protect the environment, the lives of the miners, the communities and the entire citizenry.
The technology is expected to lead to the complete elimination of mercury from the country’s small-scale mining, which affects the entire mining ecosystem. The new technology introduced by a Ghanaian company, Commodity Monitor Limited, is to improve the operations of small-scale miners, improve gold recovery to more than 90 per cent and save the environment from toxic mercury contamination, which negatively affects the environment and aquatic life.
The sector regulator and the government have made a commitment for the procurement of additional 100 units of the technology for community mining areas across the country. The mining plants are supplied as fully comprehensive modular solutions from ore through gold ore or bagged mineral concentrates without using mercury.
The Chief Executive Officer of Commodity Monitor Limited, Mr Stephen Yeboah, said the use of chemicals in mining at any level did not affect only those directly involved but also the larger society. He said the uncontrolled use and exposure to mercury in artisanal and small-scale mining remained a major worry. Mercury puts miners and their communities at risk of impacts from permanent brain damage to seizures, vision and hearing loss, and delayed childhood development.
Mr Yeboah said unsustainable and illegal mining was one of the key drivers for the destruction of forests and river bodies and that an analysis of soil in the Pra River Basin covering the South Western part of the country revealed deteriorating quality in the soil and water resources.
The technology, he said, has the capacity to process sand, clay and hard-rock and that the modular nature of the mining machine design allows for different modules to be added to expand the plants as the need arises.
“This allows miners to gain a return on investment as the miner expands, the facility was made to specifically remediate mercury-contaminated areas, recovering significant quantities of gold in the process,” he said.