$6.3m project on safe mining launched

 The Government, in collaboration with the United Nations Develop­ment Programme (UNDP) and Unit­ed Nations Industrial Organisation (UNIDO), yesterday launched in Accra a $6.3m project to minimise the use of mercury in mining.

The “PlanetGold Project” is meant to make small-scale gold mining safer, cleaner, and more profitable in the country.

On the theme ‘Advancing for­malisation and mercury-free gold in Ghana’, it is being implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in partnership with UNDP, UNIDO and Global En­vironmental Facility for a five-year period spanning 2022 to 2027.

The implementation of the project is expected to minimise the risks posed by mercury use in the Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) sector by ensuring sound chemical management and eliminating pollution hazards.

Speaking at the launch, the Executive Director of EPA, Dr Henry Kwabena Kokofu, said the project would strengthen national and jurisdic­tional capacity to enhance Ghana’s compliance with the Minamata Convention, in accordance with national environmental policies, to support global platforms on mercury reduction, responsible supply chains and mineral resource governance.

He said the ASGM sector had witnessed consistent growth over the years, contributing about a third of the coun­try’s total gold pro­duction, and substantially giving finan­cial support to the economy.

The EPA executive director said the sector was still largely an informal one and was characterised by significant en­vironmental pollution and degrada­tion, which emanated from the use of unsafe chemicals such mercury in mining.

Dr Kokofu said even though the project could not start last year as scheduled, the implementation period would not change.

He noted that the project had come at an opportune time to improve the management of chemicals and eliminate pollution hazards, while improving financial inclusion and transition into the formal economy.

Dr Kokofu said the project was focused on “optimising formal­isation through jurisdictional approaches, accelerating financial inclusion and responsible supply chains, enhancing the uptake of mercury-free technologies, foster­ing knowledge sharing and local capacity building support.”

“I would like to first express my sincere appreciation to our devel­opment partners for keeping faith with Ghana in our quest to put in place sustainable programmes and strategies for the implementation of the chemical-related multi-later­al agreements (MEAs) in fulfilment of the 2030 Global Agenda for Sustainable Development,” he said.

The Resident Representative of UNDP, Dr Angela Lusigi, said Ghana was Africa’s largest gold producer and with over one million Ghanaians employed in the sector.

She said the project represented a breakthrough in protecting hu­man health and the environment, adding that the project would help Ghana achieve the Minamata Con­vention on Mercury and promote green structural transformation.


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