Solid waste management in the mining industry in Ghana: a case study of Ashanti Goldfields Company Limited Obuasi, Ghana
Ghana is endowed with abundant natural resources, which have played a very important role in the agricultural and industrial efforts of the country. These resources served as the springboard for the country’s industrial development after the attainment of independence and they remain the fundamental endowment from which the nation’s people derive their livelihood. In the process of exploiting these resources to meet the legitimate socio-economic needs and aspirations of her people, however, adequate care has often not been taken to guard against the destruction of the environment. Mining is one of the main sectors that contribute significantly to the nation’s development but its activities are usually associated with a number of problems such as land devastation, soil degradation, and water and air quality changes. Attempts are made in this study to identify how the solid waste from mining is managed in Ghana, with particular reference to the Ashanti Goldfields Company Limited, one of the largest gold mining companies in the world, as the case study. The study identifies the world’s standards for managing solid waste from mining. The waste management methods of some major gold producing countries in the world such as South Africa, the United States of America, Denmark, India, and the Great Britain are also identified, Ghana’s mining regulations are also identified and compared to those of the world standards. In addition, the AGC’s solid waste management methods are also identified and compared with these standards to see whether the company’s waste management methods conform to those of the world standards or not. The reasons for comparing the AGC’s waste management methods to those of world standards is first, to determine whether the AGC adopts the world’s standards or those of Ghana’s Mining Laws of managing mining waste in the country. The second reason is to know whether Ghana’s mining Laws also conform to those of world standards, On the basis of this, conclusions can be drawn as to whether the AGC is doing the right thing by adopting the world standards or not. Information from the study is gathered through the use of interviews, questionnaires, and extensive observation at the study area. The study revealed that although the company’s waste management methods conform to some of the world conventions, a greater percentage of these conventions are either partially adhered to or completely ignored. In view of this, it has been suggested that the government of Ghana and all the agencies concerned with environmental safety be actively involved in en forcing and ensuring that the AGC Limited, and for that matter mining companies m the country manage their wastes in accordance with the world standards. A call has also been made for the review of Ghana’s mining regulations which does not address current concerns on waste management so that it can be abreast and consistent with those of the world standards. Perhaps, this can serve as a yardstick and a basis of effective monitoring of the activities of the mining firms to ensure sufficient air, soil and water quality in the country.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Economics and Industrial Management, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Arts degree in Economics, 2003