A professor at the Department of Pathology at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Prof. Paul Poku Sampane Ossei, has disclosed that a study conducted indicates children who consume crops or drinks from galamsey-polluted environments absorb a dangerous 90% of heavy metals, significantly higher than the 15% assimilated by adults.
Speaking to Citi News during a stakeholders’ workshop in Tarkwa on Artisanal and Small Scale Mining and the Impact of Chemicals in artisanal gold recovery, Prof. Paul Poku Sampane Ossei urged an end to the use of mercury in artisanal small-scale mining, emphasizing its harmful impact on the brain and cognitive function.
“We have to try as much as possible to reduce or even end the use of these heavy metals because if the bio-accumulation gets into our body, it causes problems for us. They cause problems for us if they get into the air or the food chain. For instance, cassava or any other food that we eat, where they have these heavy metals, can cause problems. Especially children who assimilate as much as 90% of these heavy metals that they ingest into their system. Unlike adults who absorb only about 15% of what they ingest, but in Children, that is where the problem is because it can affect their brain or cognitive function,” he warned.
Apart from the threat to children’s cognitive function due to heavy metal pollution from small-scale mining, Prof. Ossei, who also heads the Forensic Unit of KNUST and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, highlighted other diseases resulting from such galamsey-induced pollutants.
“Kidney diseases are one, and then we have also tuberculosis due to the dust that comes with it. Again, lung and liver diseases as well as brain diseases are all part of the effects of heavy metals from chemicals that are being used to extract gold,” he added.
The Chief Executive of Commodity Monitor, Stephen Yeaboah, who facilitated the workshop for the small-scale miners, advocated for the adoption of mercury-free gold processing technology like the Kacha as a better option.
“The Gold Kacha technology presents a unique opportunity for small-scale miners to change the way they work. For a very long time, they have been producing less gold, and even worse, polluting the environment as well as intoxicating themselves. So this machine with a Crasher and a Miller and what we term the gold Kacha is here to help. One good thing is that this machine works faster, recovers more gold, and doesn’t allow the use of mercury. So they have a mercury-free way of recovering more gold in a better way. This is critical because we are all at risk from the pollution of water bodies and destruction of the forest; therefore, this is the best way we can work to ensure that we can produce gold without destroying the environment,” he advised.
Meanwhile, the PRO for Small Scale Miners in Tarkwa Centre, Napoleon Tandoh, while welcoming the mercury-free gold processor, said miners need funding support to switch from the mercury pollution methods of gold processing.
On his part, MCE for Tarkwa Nsuaem, Benjamin Kesse, praised Commodity Monitor for its effort to build the capacity of small-scale miners to improve their recovery but more importantly operate in an environmentally friendly manner.