Some heavy metal pollutants in the water bodies of the northern parts of the Ashanti Gold Belt

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The quality of water bodies in the Northern part of the Ashanti Gold Belt was investigated, with particular reference to pH, conductivity and heavy metal content. Boreholes, wells and streams were sampled and analysed. The results show that, the pH in some of the Boreholes in both mining and non-mining areas were lower than 6 and was found to be predominant in the Tarkwaian system. This could be a result of the natural geochemical and biochemical oxidation of pyrites and carbonaceous matter in the aquifer. The levels of some of the metals such as, Hg, Pb, Mn, Cr, and Cd in some areas exceeded the WHO standard for drinking water. Mercury pollution, especially in the boreholes, seemed to be widespread in the study area, which may be due to the geology of the aquifer as well as widespread small-scale mining activity, which applies mercury for gold extraction, Pb, Mn, Cr and Cd pollution is not as severe as in the case of Hg, even though thier presence especially of Pb, Cr and Cd could constitute a health hazard. Generally, pollution levels in the Boreholes are relatively higher than in wells, and surface water bodies seemed to be the least polluted during the period of investigation.
A thesis submitted to Department of Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Science degree in Environmental Resources Management, 2001