By: Abugri Amos
In Ghana, the spotlight on illegal mining, or galamsey, has overshadowed the equally critical issue of sand mining. A closer examination reveals that sand mining poses a more severe threat to the environment than certain forms of galamsey operations such as ‘dig and detect’ (locally known as “bohwehwee”).
“Dig and detect” in a critical analysis is not harmful to the environment as compared to the other forms of illegal mining and sand mining in the country. The modus operandi of ‘dig and detect’ form of illegal mining occurs when labourers dig a pit of not more than 6 feet and a gold-detecting machine operator drops into the pit for gold detection. And afterwards, the landlords regulate the labourers to cover the pit’s before leaving the mining site to enable them to engage in different economic activities on the land after mining.
Unlike ‘dig and detect’ operations, sand mining involves uprooting trees, creating deep pits that form stagnant water bodies ideal for breeding mosquitoes, and rendering land infertile for agriculture, a means of losing our natural plants.
Again, sand winning creates deeper pits, which gradually become stagnant water bodies that breed mosquitoes in the communities of operation. Moreso, Sand wining makes the land unfertile for plant growth. At any area of sand wining, planting grains is impossible.
For instance, in Sefwi Amoaya, a town in the Western North Region of Ghana, the aftermath of sand mining at “Apiimanim Nkwanta” in the 2000s has left behind stagnant water bodies, rendering the land unusable for economic activities. And in the same town, ‘dig and detect’ type of illegal mining kicked in around 2017 at areas such as “Tumatu” road suburb, and “Asamen” suburb, as at now the land’s which experienced the ‘dig and detect’ form of illegal mining reamin fertile whereby farmers are carrying out their farming and other economic activities on. This is because no chemical is involved in the process and the pits are covered right after a gold is detected.
Upon further research to Ashanti Akim Krofa, I witnessed two sand wining areas whereby the areas of sand wining have become a bare land and pits developed into stagnant water bodies. Additionally, I have also witnessed sand wining effect on the environment in Garu Abilatega small forest reserved around their dam, where trees are at the verge of uprooting, and have created uncontrollable pits.
In conclusion, addressing sand mining is just as crucial, if not more so, than focusing solely on illegal mining. It is advisable for the government, media, and the general public to join force to tackle the issue of sand mining in the country.
The writer is a young journalist with passion of agricultural and environmental stories. Contact details: Abugri Amos, email: firstname.lastname@example.org