Gold Rush, Public Health and Water Bodies [Article]

1.0 Introduction

Human beings on this planet earth fight for survival just like plants and animals. Out of the effort in fighting for survival, some end up achieving nothing while others end up having something they can boast of. Such assets as jobs are vital issues that everyone fights for. With the eagerness in fighting for survival, many end up on various job sectors. One such job sector is gold mining which is regarded as one of the lucrative jobs according to human perception across the globe.

Entering into gold mining sector expects an individual to go all out by putting up much strength in such for gold. However, this sector attracts several health hazards and problems which need much attention by all. Such health hazards as chemical, physical and ergonomic are mostly seen in the mining sectors. Many individuals have lost their lives and many communities have also lost precious individuals all as a result of exposure to such health hazards and problems. Most homes are left broken due to the lost of bread winners due to mining. The search for gold in Ghana is on the rise as it attracts huge sums of money for the workers but they forget the health implications.

The rise in search for gold has led to the establishment of several illegal gold mining firms across the country. The worse of this is the invasion of hundreds of Chinese, Niger, Burkinabe, Nigerians and other citizens who are into the Ghanaian communities doing illegal mining and destroying the environment. One might ask how these nationals from other countries came into the country and even how they obtained their visas is a great question to be answered by the Ghana Migration Board and the various Ghana Embassies abroad. One most important issue that needs urgent attention is the fact that these nationals use various weapons to protect areas of operation on the Ghanaian community they operate. No wonder, that, there have recently been killings of Ghanaian citizens by the Chinese illegal miners in places like Konongo, Obuasi, Kubi-Kwanto, Esase Bontefufuo and Manso areas in Ashanti Region, Prestea, Bogoso and Dwira Benso areas in Western Region, and Dunkwa-On-Ofin areas in the Central Region. It is sad that even some deaths by some Ghanaian citizens are not even recorded or reported to the police for arrest of the culprit in the mining communities.

My own investigations show that, some of these illegal miners pay bribes to some Ghanaian citizens and they allowed them to operate under cover. Some illegal miners also operate under cover of areas where one will not even think mining operations can take place. Some of these are villages around Wa in the Upper West Region and Bolgatanga and its surroundings in the Upper East Regions all in the northern part of Ghana.

The current state of the nation (2013) is very terrible in mining communities. There is insecurity, increase in morbidities and mortalities in various mining communities across the country. These have been as a result of the scramble for gold just for survival and the aim of getting rich. Limited healthcare facilities to address the mining related health problems have also been a championing factor for the rise in morbidity and mortality in mining areas. Personal observation could be concluded that, there have been major health problems which are not attended to in such mining communities as Dunkwa-On-Ofin, Manso-Nkwanta and its surroundings, Tarkwa, Kibi, Bawku, Dwira Benso, Bibiani, Wa, Kanyasi No 2, Konongo and its surroundings, Esaasi Bontefufuo and other mining communities across the country. Majority of Ghanaians will be surprise to know that mining activities go in the northern part of the country in places like Wa and its surroundings, Bolgatanga and Bawku and its surroundings. This is because, mining activities is only noted in the middle and southern belts of Ghana according to majority of Ghanaians. The whole nation is at risk of mining related health hazards and problems not only on the environment but also most importantly on water bodies and human health.

The situation is so alarming that if care is not taken, by the year 2020, the situation could be worse and Ghana will have to pay a high price in addressing mining related health hazards and problems if the situation is not addressed from now. There could be serious crises in mining communities as community folks may also pick up weapons to retaliate of the actions of the illegal miners from other countries to fight for their rights and liberty. There could be shortage and higher rate of contamination of ‘’portable water’’ and food crops in mining areas. My third study explains into details mining effects on food crops. Life expectancy in mining areas may decrease which may be attributed to high exposure of chemical, ergonomic and physical mining health hazards.

In addition, there have also been major damages or destruction of properties like land and mostly water bodies. Land and water bodies suffer greatly from illegal mining operations in Ghana. Chemicals such as cyanide, lead and mercury which are used for gold purification are used with less knowledge by these illegal miners. After use, they allow the residue which also contains poisonous contents to run into water bodies thereby making the water unsafe for use. In my first paper, little was said about the real mining effect on water, but this paper describes in details the most important effects of illegal mining on water bodies in Ghana. Water as a basic necessity should be accessible and affordable in middle-income country like Ghana. But it is very sad that majority of water bodies are destroyed through illegal mining operations. Major water bodies like Offin, Tano, Ankobra, Pra, White Volta, Black Volta, Bia, Birim and Afram rivers have all been contaminated through mining activities in Ghana.

My personal enquiry showed that majority of hospital data in most mining communities in Ghana reveals that, most reported cases are associated to water health effects which may be attributed to mining operations. In 2001, mining communities in Ghana were seen to have high prevalence of malaria cases which was attributed to mining operations (Ghana Health Service Report, 2001).

Majority of residents in mining communities are facing lots of challenges with regards to seeking for medical care for mining related health problems. Some residents in mining communities live in far away villages where healthcare facilities are not readily accessible and affordable, others have no money to attend hospitals while others are afraid of screening and others are willing to be screened provided treatment is free after showing reactive to any health problem (Atakora, M.O., 2012).

It has been identified that majority of the health problems residents face are associated to mining impact on water bodies. Greatly, most residents also find it very cumbersome to have access to portable drinking water as the water have been contaminated by chemicals such as mercury, lead and cyanide which are used in gold processing. The entire environment is also affected as the vegetation also use contaminated water for photosynthesis.

It is due to this that this study is being taken to find out what could be done to address the situation. Lots of residents in mining communities suffer greatly from various kinds of cancer, skin infections and other related health problems as a result of the use of contaminated water for basic necessities. Therefore, the overall objective of this study is to investigate into the prevailing health problems of mining on water bodies in seven selected regions in Ghana which include; Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central, Eastern, Upper East, Upper West and Western Regions.

1.1 Theoretical and conceptual framework of the study

The theoretical frame work for this study was based on the owned developed Conceptual Framework dubbed Water and Mining Health Assessment Diagram (Atakora, M.O., 2013) similar to the one used in paper I on mining. This was a community based developed frame work based on respondents opinion and views of how illegal mining operations release health hazards into water bodies.

The framework addresses issues about mining health hazards and problems, health status, cost for healthcare and decision making by the individual.

It is believed that mining operations releases health hazards and problem that determines the health status (good or poor), this also determines the healthcare cost (the higher the exposure to the health hazards and problem the longer or shorter the treatment period). The only way of preventing oneself from further exposure is by death or migration. However, those with no other option go back to the mining community to further be exposed to the health hazards and problems.

Those with strong financial standing are able go for better treatment compared to those in the lower financial standings. The framework was further tested among the population and it was proved positive in addressing mining health hazards and problems. It addresses issues of developing community interventions to addresses the health problems. Such interventions as offering assistance to neighbours and relatives were king. This was accepted because due to the inability of most victims to cater for themselves due to financial difficulties. The framework also suggested to mining companies to put up second level cluster healthcare centres in the communities to help treat mining related health problems immediately to prevent further complications. All these were addresses in my first paper (Atakora, M.O., 2012).

The framework just highlighted on issues on water pollution in the first paper but discussed further in this paper. Most water bodies are destroyed due to the used of cyanide, mercury and lead chemicals for gold purification. From personal observation, by 2020 between 60% to 80% of water bodies would have been destroyed in Ghana if illegal gold mining is not controlled. Major water bodies like Tano, Offin, Pra, Ayensu and others would be greatly affected by 2020. The framework is of the view that if there of rigid environmental regulations there would be a reduction on the devastating state of water bodies through mining activities.

The framework is also of the view that artificial dams should be created in areas of mining operations to be used for gold processing. The suggestion also is that, there should be a way of recycling these dams for further usage in gold processing. This will totally prevent miners from using natural water bodies for gold processing for them to be contaminated with mercury, cyanide and lead chemicals. Instead, these chemicals could be left to remain in the dams that would be created in mining environments purposely for gold processing.

Figure1: Cyclical Protection of Natural Water bodies and Human Health Diagram (Atakora, M.O., 2013)

1.2 Broad objective of the study

The main objective of this study is to investigate into the prevailing mining health hazards on water bodies and its impact on human health. The impact of illegal mining on the environment would also be assessed in five selected regions in Ghana.

1.2.1 Specific objectives of the study

  1. To assess community awareness of mining hazards on water bodies and the environment.
  2. To determine community knowledge on addressing mining health hazards on water bodies and the environment.
  3. To identify common and most important health problems on the community associated to water and environmental population through mining operations.
  4. To assess the impact of illegal mining on water bodies on the Ghanaian environment.



2.0 Methods

2.1 Study setting

The study was conducted in five principal regions of Ghana where mining activities is the major occupation per observation. The regions include, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central, Eastern and Western. Though very good that Ghana has five out of its 10 regions undertaken mining activities but very sad that precautions to address the health related problems are very low. Apart from mining, major farming activities take place Ashanti, Western and Brong Ahafo Regions. Due to mining activities, most of the farm lands in these regions have been destroyed as well as water bodies.

Figure 2: Geographical map of Ghana and study regions (Source: Ghana Political Map, 2010)

2.2 Study design

An observation study was done to identify some common and most important  health problem associated to water bodies through illegal gold mining activities and its impact on communities where the operations take place. Observation study was necessary as it paved the way to have access to observe the illegal gold mining situation and the people as it was not possible to conduct real interviews. But, of course, some interaction was held with the miners. The study also helped to have an in-depth understanding of the situation. Though one may argue that, it might be subjective, creates conflicts and time consuming but situations were reported as observed.

2.3 Sampling procedure and sampling size

The study was expected to included 1000 respondents residing in the five selected regions in Ghana. Overall, 200 each respondents above 18 years were expected to be selected from each of the five regions sampled for the study. Majority of the miners were from age 18 that is the reason for selecting from this age.

Selection methods were of two stages within each of the regions. The first stage included respondents from the urban areas and the second stage also focused on respondents form the rural areas of each of the sampled regions. This was done to have both urban and rural representation. Respondents who have lived in the mining areas of the five selected regions beyond 3 years were included in the study. This was because they were considered to have more experience in reporting health problems associated to mining as a result of mining operations.

2.4 Data collection techniques and study period

Data collection was basically on observation and some interactions with the illegal gold miners.

Data collection techniques used included observations and personal interactions with the miners. A pilot study was done in Konongo, a mining community in Ashanti Region to test the applicability and validity of the research in January, 2013. Overall, the research data was based on socio-demographic characteristics, knowledge on mining impact on water, history of health problems associated to water and environment and strategies of addressing the health problems associated to the water through mining activities. After getting informed consent, each participant was asked to give appropriate response to confirm their consent.


Samples of water were also taken from point sources for observation for the amount of chemicals like cyanide, lead and mercury contained in them. All the samples of water were taken from rivers like Birim, Offin, Bonsu, Ankobra, Tano and compared with treated water from the Ghana Water Company.

Above all, the study lasted for 21 months; that this from March, 2013 to November, 2013.

2.5 Data management, entry, monitoring and evaluation

All data collected were kept confidentially. Control of data quality was achieved through the review of data collection instruments on the field and at the end of collection activities on daily basis. Corrections of errors identified were made accordingly at the end of the daily collection processes throughout the study period.

Monitoring and evaluation was done right from the start of the research project. Regular and effective follow up and supervision was done to check authenticity of information given by respondents. Where necessary, less important responses from respondents were eliminated from the data collected because they were considered not to be important to the expected results of the study.

2.3 Data entry and analysis

Descriptive analysis and description. Data was presented on cross-tabulation. Pie chart were only used to show different in awareness of illegal gold mining health problem. Observations of water contamination and its health effects were described according to the situation.


2.4 Ethical considerations

Efforts were made to seek approvals and permissions from the community folks.  Informed consent was obtained from participants to meet the autonomy criteria. In order to allow participants to make informed choices, the aims and advantages of the study were explained to them but of course participants had the liberty to withdraw from the study at any point in time.

2.5 Dissemination of results and relevance of the study

The results is expected to be communicated to the communities the study was conducted. Again, it is expected that, the results is communicated to the general public to create awareness. I believed that, when this is done, it would create a platform that will call for more attention to address issues concerning illegal gold mining and its health problems it causes on water bodies and human health. The report will also be relevant to the municipalities to improve on the health promotion programs.

3.0 Results

3.1 Socio-demographic characteristics of respondents

The socio-demographics of the study participants are summarized here. The study was expected to include a total of 1000 participants with a response rate of 45% (1000/450). The mining sector though generates lots of employment for majority of residents in the mining areas in different age groups and educational levels. But, majority of such residents enter into the sector illegally. Most illegal miners interacted with were males 78.2% (352/450) and the rest being females 21.7% (98/450) falling between the ages of 18 and 45 years. Very few both males and females have high school educational qualification. Almost, all illegal miners resides in the communities their illegal mining operation take place.

Few of the population are ignorant of the health hazards and problems illegal gold mining causes. This study however reveals some of the great impact that illegal gold mining operations have been having on human and environmental health.


3.2 Assessment of community awareness of illegal mining hazards on water bodies and the environment

Response and observations showed a significant difference of proportion in reporting community’s awareness on effects on the use of contaminated water bodies which related to illegal mining operations. The awareness level may be associated to the experience in working or staying in a particular mining area for longer period of time. However, it was observed that most water bodies that have been destroyed contained lead, mercury and cyanide chemicals which are used for gold purification.

It can be observed that, very few respondents (about 12.4%) are not aware of the real health effects on illegal gold mining on human and water bodies. The chart below shows a complete awareness level of the respondents of this study. Although, they are aware of the health effects but they cannot stop due to economic hardships according to the respondents. They reported that, that is their only source of employment that helped them to cater for their families


3.3 Community knowledge on addressing mining health hazards and hazards on water bodies and the environment

Experiencing a particular health problem related to illegal golf mining was difficult addressing them through proper health care services. Majority of the workers do not visit the health care facility even though they are aware of the illegal gold mining health hazards. When interacted with regarding the reason for majority of them not visiting the health care facility, they reported that, they have their own medication – herbal. Very few of them who visited the hospital also said they were tired of attending review after first visit.

Regarding water bodies, almost all reported that they only wash the gold dust and the chemical is not poisonous to human use. Very few reported that the chemicals left in the in particular water body runs into another. They had no idea of the destruction of water bodies through illegal gold mining operations and modalities of preserving the water bodies from damaging. Let us also not forget of the damaging to farm lands and in the general the forest reserve.





3.4 Common and most important health problems of illegal mining

From the table below, the most important and common health problem of illegal gold mining recorded was malaria (141 (31.3%)) across all regions selected for this study and followed by chronic body pains (71 (15.7%)). Relatively, some chronic unexplained conditions (35 (25.7)) were also recorded. These unexplained conditions reported by respondents was difficult to be understood due it how they explained the condition to call for the necessary medical treatment.

In general, these health conditions were not taken directly from any hospital records but as verbally reposted by respondents.

Table 1: Most important health problems reported by the respondents

Reg. by Health problems  

















Chro. Pains

11 (15.4%) 13  (18.3%) 16  (22.5%) 15 (21.1%) 8 (111.2%) 2 (2.8%) 6   (8.5%) 71 (15.7%)
Eye infection 8  (16.3%) 7   (14.2%) 12 (24.4%) 9 (18.3%) 5   (10.2%) 1  (2%) 7 (14.2%) 49 (10.8%)
Malaria 25  (17.7%) 31 (21.9%) 23  (16.3%) 26 (18.4%) 17  (12%) 5 (3.5%) 14 (9.9%) 141 (31.3%)
Sus. Cancer 4  (16.6%) 3  (12.5%) 5     (20.8%) 7    (29.1%) 4   (16.6%) 0 1    (4.1%) 24  (5.3%)
Skin Infection 6     (10.7%) 9   (16%) 9   (16%) 13 (23.2%) 7 (12.5%) 2 (3.5%) 10 (17.8%) 56 (12.4%)
Occ. Lung Disease 9   (21.4%) 7  (16.6%) 7  (16.6%) 6  (14.2%) 4   (9.5%) 0 9  (21.4%) 42  (9.3%)
Occ. Ind. Hearing Loss 7  (21.8%) 5  (15.6%) 7  (21.8%) 3  (9.3%) 3   (9.3%) 0 7  (21.8%) 32  (7.1%)


Unexplained condition


5   (14.2%)


6  (17.1%)


4  (11.4%)



5  (14.2%)



6  (17.1%)





9  (14.2%)



35   (25.7%)






81  (18%) 83 (18.4%) 84




10 (2.2%) 63


450 (100%)



3.5 Common and most important influential factors of illegal mining by regions

There are several influential factors that are encouraging the operations of illegal gold mining in all the regions selected for this study. The most important influential factors recorded verbally are shown on the table below. In general, unemployment and catering for family and other relatives were the highest recorded. Prestige and the edge to get rich have also contributed to lots of school drop-outs and increase in social vices like smoking, drinking, sexual abuse and teenage pregnancies in the various communities.

Influential factors Ashanti B/A Central Eastern UE UW Western Total
Unemployment 21 (16%) 23 (17.5%) 22 (16.7%) 23 (17.5%) 18 (13.7%) 6   (4.5%) 18 (13.7%) 131 (29.1%)
Getting rich 19 (21.1%) 19 (21.1%) 21 (23.3%) 21 (23.3%) 10 (11.1%) 0 0 90   (20%)
Catering for family 27 (15%) 33 (18.4%) 29 (16.2%) 31 (17.3%) 14 (7.8%) 4    (2.2%) 41 (22.9%) 179 (39.7%)
Prestige 8     (16%) 6   (12%) 11 (22%) 9  (18%) 12 (24%) 0 4   (8%) 50 (11.1%)
Total 75    (16.6%) 81 (18%) 83 (18.4%) 84 (18.6%) 54 (12%) 10 (2.2%) 63   (14%) 450 (100%)


3.6 Major emerging illegal gold mining injuries in the various communities

The table below records of the common emerging injuries suffered by these illegal miners across all regions. The sad issue here is that, majority of them do not go for proper medical treatment but rely on cheap and self management processes when encountered any injury as a result of illegal mining. Within Ashanti, B/A, Western and Eastern Regions, some of these victims were visited just for the purpose of personal evidence. Spinal injuries, neck and head injuries and arm injuries were the most common and important injuries recorded. The cause of these injuries maybe associated to inadequate experience in mining and the lack of proper equipment used for mining gold. Additionally, there were no safety regulations guiding these illegal gold miners in their operations. Both males and females suffered greatly regarding the injuries experienced.





Injury by regions Ashanti B/A Central Eastern UE UW Western Total
Femoral injuries 6


9 (17.6%) 12  (23.5%) 8   (15.6%) 5   (9.8%) 2   (3.9%) 9  (17.6%) 51 (11.3%)
Spinal injuries 16 (15.2%) 16 (15.2) 19   (18%) 21  (20%) 14 (13.3%) 3   (2.8%) 16 (15.2%) 105 (23.3%)
Tibia injuries 14 (20.2%) 12 (17.3%) 11   (15.9%) 12 (17.3%) 7  (10.1%) 1   (1.2%) 12  (17.3%) 69 (15.3%)
Neck and head injuries 21 (20.5%) 19 (18.6%) 18   (17.6%) 19 (18.6%) 11 (10.7%) 3   (2.9%) 11 (10.7%) 102 (22.6%)
Arm injuries 18 (14.6%) 25 (20.3%) 23  (18.6%) 24 (19.5%) 17 (13.8%) 1   (0.8%) 15 (1.2%) 123 (27.3%)
Total 75 (16.6%) 81 (18%) 83   (18.4%) 84 (18.6%) 54 (12%) 10 (12.2%) 63 (14%) 450 100%)


3.7 Assessment of the impact of illegal gold mining on water bodies on the Ghanaian environment

On the impact of illegal gold mining on water bodies, it was recorded based on observation that most water bodies have been destroyed. This might lead to hug sums of state money to bring these water bodies back to their original state. As a result, most farm lands too have been destroyed. This might lead to famine in the next few years ahead in Ghana. Poverty, morbidity and mortality are on the increase in such communities with its associated social vices. There is fear and panic living in such communities due to insecurity.




Though the study is at its premature stage but available data gathered so far is enough to justify the damage illegal gold mining is causing to water bodies, farm lands and specifically human health in Ghana.

The Rush for Gold through illegal gold mining has led to the destruction of majority of water bodies in Ghana leading to the increase in morbidity across all regions selected for this study. Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central, Eastern, Upper East, Upper West and Western Regions have the highest illegal gold mining operation activities in Ghana. In all, a personal observation showed that about 96 water bodies combined in Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central, Eastern and Western Regions have been contaminated with lead, mercury and cyanide chemicals which are being used for illegal gold mining operations in 2013/2014 periods. The effects on these water bodies have caused such health problems as lever, kidney, intestinal, eye infection and other injuries within the regions the study was done.

As at 2013 and 2014, a personal observation across the regions showed that River Offin, Tano, Ankobra, Pra, Oda, Bia, Birim and Afram have greatly been polluted by illegal mining operations. The heavy pollution of water bodies is made it too expensive for the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL, 2014) to operate water treatment plants in many mining communities across the nation. This has led to the increase in budget for purchasing chemicals and other equipment for the treatment of the water to make it safe for use.

Also, in 2013, most treatment plants have been shut down by the GWCL. For instance, treatment plant for Oda River in Obuasi area, Birim River in Kyebi and River Offin in Dunkwaw have one time been shut down to save it from permanent damage due to the high level of chemicals in the water which are extracted for treatment. The high level of chemicals in the polluted water bodies is far from the WHO’s limit. This also make way for the GWCL to also increase (exceeding the WHO’s limit) the amount of chemicals used in treatment the water for various uses. The issue now here is that, we are all at fault but we should find way of dealing with illegal gold mining to help save water bodies, farm lands and human health.

Currently (2013/2014) more than fifty (50) rivers and streams in Obusai area have been destroyed,  more than twenty (26) in Wassa area, more than eight( 8) in Bibiani, more than eleven (11) in Ahafo/Tepa area, more than 11 at Prestea-Tarkwa and more than five (5) in Yalei in the Upper East region due to illegal gold mining. A personal observation in 2013 shows that, Densu River in Atiwa forest which supplies about 65% of water to the population in Accra has been polluted with illegal gold mining chemicals. Though, there have been law enforcement to control illegal gold mining operations but the practice still go on. Whose fault?

I took a personal journey to these arease, during this study for personal observational operations as well as interacting with some community folks. It was observed that the concentration of lead, mercury, cyanide, silica, iron, manganese, zinc and nickel in the water which is higher than the WHO allowable limits according to some experts have caused lots of harm to health.

Based on this study, about 70% of most health problems identified in the regions the study was conducted may be attributed to illegal gold mining operations. Majority of farm lands have also been destroyed in these areas. Deep pits and holes created have been left uncovered leading to water stagnation and breeding mosquitoes to course malaria. These deep pits and holes also serve as death trap for innocent people. They fall into them unknowingly and die unrecorded.

Looking into the state of these illegal gold mining communities as at 2013/2014, one may conclude that, there is insecurity in these mining communities. As town folks protect their farm land from being destroyed, foreign nationals who are into the country purposely for illegal gold mining fight them with weapons resulting in the killing of some town folks. Sadly, some of these deaths are not even recoded or reported to the police. This has created fear and panic living in these communities.

Increase in morbidities and mortalities in various mining communities across the country is also on the rise. Due to unemployment and poverty, majority of those living the mining communities rely on cheap health services especially in place where there are no hospitals resulting in worsening their health conditions. This, I must say should be addressed as soon as possible to relief these people from their predicament by providing hospital with qualified health personnel to help alleviate their problems.

Contamination of water bodies and food crops are on the rise in mining areas leading to higher cost of food crops and other commodities. Farm lands and water bodies have been destroyed through illegal mining operations with lead, cyanide or mercury in majority of water bodies and farm land being destroyed with holes and deep pits leaving uncovered.

There have been repatriation of illegal miners from other countries but there are still other nationals from Burkina Faso, China, Niger, Nigeria operating in illegal gold mining. This study therefore recommends Ghana to strengthen the immigration regulations to make it uneasy for foreign nationals to enter the country. One may also ask, who issue the Ghana Visa to these nationals? Have there not been proper checks on the documents of these nationals documents submitted for the issuance of visas?

Illegal gold mining have lead to the killing of some Ghanaian nationals by other nationals due to illegal mining. Major sad observation recorded showed that most of such killings are  not reported to the police. Interactions on this subject revealed that previous killings reported have taken no effect. Therefore, the only way is self defence which have lead to insecurity in such communities leading to in fear and panic in such communities.




State of Ghana by 2020

I must say that, the under listed points are just a personal observation based on the study.

  • About 60% to 80% water bodies are likely to be contaminated due to illegal gold mining operations
  • Increase in mortality and morbidity due to the use of contaminated water for basic necessities in majority of homes due to illegal mining operations
  • The closing down of AngloGold Ashanti by June, 2014 until 2017 and laying-off about 6,000 workers is likely to increase illegal gold mining operations. Newmont in Ahafo Kenyasi is also likely to lay off more than 500 workers by July, 2014
  • There would be a major increase in unemployment across the country. This might lead to increase in social vices across the country.
  • Increase in HIV/AIDS and other STDs within the Ghanaian population.
  • Illegal migrants residing in the country might also lead to increase in crime rate across the country. This might create feat and panic among population

Strengths and Limitations


  • By personal observation, the eagerness of some of the participants have place the study on an important platform to be continued
  • The study has provided a general overview about illegal gold mining impact on water bodies and its health effect on the population
  • It has also created the awareness of addressing illegal gold mining


  • Small sample size 450/1,400 cannot be used for generalization of the existing problem
  • Restrictions to enter into some mining sites and communities to take data have affected in have additional data that could be of major importance to this study.
  • Limited resources (funding and means of transport) are a challenge for the study.
  • Cessation and destruction of some items of the researcher put the study to a stand-still for almost a year.


Based on personal observation, this study have been very important to alert the population of the effect of illegal gold mining across the regions the study was done. There are some remarkable observations made which may be considered for further investigation.

It was observed that, inadequate education of environmental and mining regulations may have contributed to illegal gold mining operations across the country. There is therefore the need for strict enforcement of environmental and mining law across the country.

Again, the use of lead, mercury and cyanide chemicals in illegal gold mining processes may have potentially contributed to the contamination and destruction of majority of water bodies and farm lands leading to the increase in morbidities and mortalities. Malaria, chronic pains and skin infection are among the major health problems identified. It could also be added that, one major cause of the rush for gold have unemployment especially among the youth between the ages of 18 and 45 years.

Irrespective of these, this study therefore suggests that; the creation of other source of income other than illegal gold mining by government through district, municipal and metropolitan assemblies is important. This could be done by creating at least one major state factory in every district in Ghana. This would reduce the pressure on illegal gold mining.

Strengthening of the nation’s migration laws would be a powerful tool to control illegal migrants who come into the country purposely for illegal gold mining. But, one major observation made was that some migration officials even have links with such illegal gold miners. As a results they, manoeuvre to help issue visa to other nationals who come into the country illegally.

Finally, rregulating illegal gold mining companies into the formal sector is important. This will help to even collect taxes by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) for developments.

By: Michael O. Atakora (PhD Student, UiT, Norway)


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