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14.09.2004 General News

"Fumes from burning mercury equals HIV/AIDS risk to public"

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Bolgatanga, Sept. 14, GNA - The Bolgatanga Municipal Director of Health Services, Dr. Alexis Nangbeifubah, warned on Monday that like HIV/AIDS, fumes inhaled from burning mercury poses great risk to everyone. He said people's lungs and internal organs could be damaged if galamsey operators were allowed to carry out their activities of extracting gold within homes and the communities.

Dr. Nangbeifubah gave the warning at a day's workshop on a survey carried out on small-scale gold mining in Bolgatanga municipality and Bawku West Districts commissioned by Action Aid Ghana. He advised the municipal and district/assemblies to limit the activities of the miners to specific areas out of town to avoid the dangers posed to the public. Dr. Nangbeifubah said the public should be sensitised to report people who engage in grinding and extracting gold within the communities to the law enforcement agencies for action to be taken.

The Bolgatanga Municipal Chief Executive, Mr. Rockson Ayine Bukari, observed that the unregulated activities of small-scale miners is responsible for environmental degradation and its attendant problems within the municipality. He said the lives of the youngmen and women who were being used in these activities were at risk, and gave the assurance that government would put pressure on the youth to engage in alternative skills training. He called for the collaboration of Minerals Commission, the district assemblies and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the safe use of chemicals in extracting the ore.

A lecturer from the University of Ghana, Mr. Thomas Akabzaa, who was commissioned to do the survey, said a total land area of 22.85 kilometre-square in the districts was occupied by small-scale mining activities, and that gold is the only mineral being mined.

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