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10.10.2008 News

Prestea: Why we should not tolerate surface gold mining in Ghana

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In June 2003, I wrote an article entitled: "Prestea: Why we should not tolerate surface gold mining in Ghana". In that article, I was very critical of the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime.

Since the intervenening five years between the publication of the article and now, nothing much has changed. If anything, the situation has gone from bad to worse - and illustrates perfectly, how our political class, merely competes for power as an end in itself. For, at the end of the day, they simply enjoy the spoils of office - whiles going through the motions of administering our country. I reproduce that 2003 article of mine, below. Please read on!

Ghana is a nation that has declared that it is committed to sustainable development. It is therefore essential (for the long-term future of the nation), that Ghanaians ensure that economic development today, does not compromise the ability of future generations of Ghanaians, to (at the very least) enjoy the same standard of living, as present day Ghanaians.

Globalization (which is the rise of market capitalism around the world) has brought many benefits to the citizens of countless nations around the world. Once moribund economies have been given a new lease of life, and in nation after nation foreign direct investment, is resulting in the creation of new and better-paid jobs.

An example here in Ghana is the growing industry of off-shore data processing. Companies from the US, have set up here in Ghana, to process data for transmission to the US. US firms like ACS are providing well-paid employment for a growing number of Ghanaians. It is an industry that is set to expand and grow very quickly in Ghana.

Unfortunately, there is also a downside to globalization. In poor nations that have weak and corrupt governments, there are horrific examples of environmental degradation and pollution that is destroying the lives of countless numbers of people. Surface mining has been banned in many nations, because of the toll it wreaks on the natural environment, and on human health.

One of the worst decisions ever made by a government of Ghana, was the decision of the government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), on the recommendation o the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to permit surface mining of gold in Ghana. The cost, in terms of the destruction of the natural environment, in vast swathes of pristine countryside, has been intolerably (and unacceptably) high.

In vast swathes of our countryside, streams, rivers and the topsoil, have been poisoned by chemicals that will continue to harm the natural environment, human beings and other living creatures, for years to come. The only ones who have benefited from this disaster, are some selfish members of our political class (who no doubt took their usual 10 per cent) and the perfidious foreigners who do not give a damn anyway - because we are black Africans.

A number of the companies engaged in surface mining have come from Australia. Yet, Australia herself does not permit surface mining. Why should we allow such companies to come into our country to pollute and degrade our natural environment, and destroy the health and livelihood of ordinary Ghanaians in surface gold mining operations, when they are not allowed to do so in their own home countries?

No amount of foreign exchange earned from the pollution and destruction of our natural environment, that is a direct result of surface mining, can justify this criminal failure to protect our natural environment by officialdom. Clearly, capitalism in Ghana is at the robber baron stage. In the capitalist West, a raft of legislation has been passed over the year, to protect the natural environment, protect individual consumers and society as a whole, from rapacious corporate entities.

In such nations, legislation to protect the natural environment, protect labour from exploitation and to protect consumers are in place and enforced with vigour. Yet, in Ghana, a foreign mining company, Bogoso Gold Limited (BGL), is receiving the backing of the state (in the shape of armed security personnel) to perpetrate what is in effect a crime against humanity.

Incredibly, BGL is proposing to carry out surface mining in the Prestea township (perhaps because it is cost effective!). It is one of the more egregious examples of the negative aspects of globalization. A peaceful people, desirous of being left alone to live their lives in peace, are being bludgeoned into accepting to have their lives ruined by the pollution that will definitely follow in the wake of the proposed surface mining operations by BGL, in Prestea township.

And, who dear reader, do you think will profit from the hell on earth that BGL proposes to create for the inhabitants of Prestea? The monstrosity that is proposed for Prestea is designed to simply enable greedy and unfeeling foreigners ( and their local collaborators), to grow rich - at the expense of the health and peace of mind of the inhabitants of Prestea.

Yet, nowhere in the developed world would such an outrage be tolerated. Why do our political leaders sometimes give the impression that African lives are less valuable than the lives of Westerners? The time has come for Ghanaian politicians to understand that the lives of ordinary Ghanaians cannot be sacrificed simply to enable foreign companies to profit from conditions here that would never be tolerated in their countries of origin.

There can be no justification for permitting surface mining of gold in any part of Ghana. It is simply too destructive. We can ( and are mercifully acting to do so) replace the foreign exchange earned from surface gold mining, with foreign exchange from salt exports. That is the best way of proceeding, if we are to save our natural environment from predatory foreigners and their local collaborators.

We must not permit the destruction of even a square centimeter of the land mass of Ghana, to enable foreigners and their local lackeys, who do not care one jot about the effect of their actions on the natural environment and on the health of human beings, to enrich themselves at the expense of the health of present-day and future generations of Ghanaians.

The monstrosity that is proposed for Prestea is an indictment of our political class. The power of the nation-state that is Ghana, must never be put to such shameful and inhuman ends, simply to enable unfeeling and uncaring foreigners and their Ghanaian associates to grow rich, whiles the lives of ordinary Ghanaians at places like Prestea, is turned upside down, by the pollution and the degradation of their natural environment, that results from surface gold mining operations.

Nothing can justify this outrage. All those officials and politicians who are proposing to permit this outrage to occur, will be condemned by future generations of Ghanaians, who, one hopes, will live in times when Ghanaians as a people, will appreciate the importance of protecting their natural environment - unlike today's generation of Ghanaians, who in the main, are completely unaware of the harm that is being done to the natural environment by surface gold mining companies in pursuit of profits.

Not since the Swiss banks closed their eyes to the inhuman crimes being committed by Hitler's Germany, in order to benefit from the gold that Hitler's Germany stole from Jewish holocaust victims, has such corporate callousness in pursuit of profits been experienced anywhere on earth - for that is the scale of the crime against humanity that surface mining in Ghana, represents.

There is no such thing as "environmentally-friendly" surface gold mining - it is just as fallacious as saying there is such a thing as a "virtuous prostitute". No such thing exists. Period.

May God bless our homeland Ghana always. Long live freedom. Long live Ghana.
Posted by Thoughts on Ghana

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