The acting Director of Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), Dr B.J.B. Nyarko, has said that the country stands the chance of striking uranium deposits in commercial quantities since there is an association between gold and uranium.
He explained that a study of gold tailings at the Nuclear Research Reactor at Kwabenya revealed traces of uranium in pits in gold-mining areas in the country.
Dr Nyarko said the research, carried out by GAEC, was not on a large scale and that a major prospecting and exploration was needed to establish the link.
He, however, said the link of gold with uranium depended on a number of factors, the major one being the formation of rocks in the gold-mining areas.
Dr Nyarko said this to the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday after the opening of an international seminar on Safe Management of Radioactive Waste in Accra.
He said GAEC had established a waste management centre, where all disused radioactive materials were deposited at Kwabenya to prevent them from contaminating food and water sources, as well as human beings.
He said currently, there were 30 institutions using radioactive materials and their premises were constantly being monitored by trained inspectors.
Dr Nyarko said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in collaboration with the GAEC, was therefore organising a series of training programmes for member countries in Africa on Advanced Detection Equipment and Safe Management of Radioactive Waste.
He said because Ghana was developing fast into a middle income country, it could not help but rely increasingly on radioactive materials for diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in medicine and for processing techniques in industries and mines.
The acting director said the waste management centre was the only authorised radioactive waste management control institution established in Ghana and co-ordinates nation-wide waste safety and security programmes.
He commended IAEA for the special attention it has attached to developing robust and sustainable radiation protection and waste safety infrastructure in African member states, especially in Ghana.
Dr Gordon Linsley, a radiation and waste safety consultant, told the Daily Graphic that in South Africa gold and uranium were sometimes mined from the same gold pits.
Dr Linsley therefore expressed surprise that the gold pits in Ghana were up till now not yielding uranium in commercial quantities.
Professor J.H. Amuasi, the co-ordinator of the School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences, who chaired the opening ceremony, said the international community was concerned about the threat of terrorism and the illicit trafficking in materials for the production of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
Prof. Amuasi said the IAEA and GAEC were therefore taking practical steps in contributing to world efforts at halting illicit trafficking of materials for the production of dangerous and offensive weapons.
The participating countries include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Cote d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Libya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Ghana.
Story by Abdul Aziz