FACULTY OF RENEWABLE NATURAL RESOURCES
ECOLOGICAL ECONOMICS OF MINING IN AJENJUA BEPO FOREST AND ITS CONSEQUENCES ON THE SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES
PHD PROPOSAL IN SILVICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
NSAIH BEMPAH AHMED
By environmental setting, most of the minerals in Ghana occur in the forest areas where there may be timber, Non Timber Forest Products (NTFP’s) and wildlife. They may occur far from inhabited areas, near villages and urban centres or in villages and towns. Mineral surface deposits may occur on hills, on hill slopes, flat grounds, valleys, along the banks of the various rivers and in rivers and streams.
Mineral deposits, which are currently being exploited in Ghana, include gold, diamond, bauxite and manganese.
The production of minerals in Ghana has seen a significant growth in recent times (Ghana Business Directory, 2003). Ghana earns a lot of foreign exchange from the export of all minerals. Between 1991 and 2000, the gross yearly foreign exchange earnings from the mineral industry contributed more than 35 % of the gross annual foreign exchange earnings of the country (Ghana Business Directory, loc cit)
The mining industry provides some of the raw materials used by mineral – based local industries. These include manganese which is used for the manufacturing of batteries, salt used for the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products, kaolin used in the production of local powder, clay for the ceramic industry, gold for local goldsmith to make ornaments and jewellery, silica for the glass factory and sand and gravels for the construction industry. The supply of these raw materials saves the country a lot of foreign exchange, which would otherwise have been used to import them to sustain these local industries.
By nature of deposition and geological setting, mineral deposits ,may be categorised into six (6) main types viz; Near – surface stratified deposit, stock work and pipe deposit, deep stratified deposit, vein or lens deposit, irregular deposit and massive deposit.
Generally, mining operations progress through four main states 1. Prospecting; the research for mineral deposits.
2. Exploration; the work involved in accessing the size, slope, location and economic value of a deposit 3. Development; the work of preparing access to the deposit so that the minerals can be extracted from it 4. Exploitation; the work of extracting the mineral
No matter what the geological and environmental settings of a mineral deposit are, the mining of the mineral will either be by the surface mining method or the underground method.
Obviously in between the near – surface and very deeply created deposits, the choice of a mining method greatly depends on the economics of mining process. Surface mining methods are applicable to near- surface deposits and will typically involve the following activities; clearing of vegetation cover and removal of top soil. Inevitably, mining is virtually always accompanied by environmental degradation. However it is the way these mining activities are carried out determine the extent of subsequent damage.
Concern for the forest environment as far back as the colonial era with the institution of the forest ordinance gave to colonial masters of the country the mandate to designate an area as a forest reserve. The prohibition of activities such as mining, hunting, fishing etc in declared forest reserve areas also appears in the forest protection decree 1974( NRCD 243 ) and subsequently, in the Ghana Forestry Commission Act 405 of 1980.
In March 1996, the Ministry of Lands and Forestry now Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources placed a moratorium on the exploration of minerals in forest reserves. This arose from concerns of the forestry department of lands and forestry about the continuing depletion of Ghana’s forest base by...