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Gold mined in Ghana and distributed globally

Key facts:

  • Ghana is the number one gold producer in Africa, with the mining sector contributing 15% to the country’s GDP.
  • Gold accounts for 49% of the country’s mining sector.
  • 65-70% of gold in Ghana is produced by Large Scale Commercial mines (LSM).
  • 25-35% is produced by Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM).
  • Main export destination countries include Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, India, Turkey, Australia and Hong Kong.

Key stakeholders:

  • Producers/Miners (Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM)).
  • Traders.
  • Aggregators.
  • Exporters.
  • Regulators (e.g., Minerals Commission).
  • Civil Society Organisations (e.g. Tropenbos Ghana).
  • Local Communities.

Aims, needs and challenges:

  • Ensure mining activities are not performed in protected areas, fragile ecosystems, or other areas of high conservation or ecological value.
  • Introduction of a focus on sustainable development in the mining laws as part of the country’s environmental policies.
  • Corporate mining responsibilities.
  • Other uses of the land at the end of mine life, e.g., rehabilitation of the post-mining land.
  • Training on environmental / social issues for artisanal mining community members.
  • Land reclamation and restoration by the government.
  • Introduce new policies, regulations and frameworks by the government/policy makers.
  • Promotion of market-based incentives to mitigate the negative impacts of Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM).

Value chain and impact on biodiversity:

  • Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) is composed of artisanal miners, semi-mechanised ASM operators and fully mechanised ASM operators.
  • It is estimated that over one million Ghanaians are engaged in ASM, supporting more than 4.5 million people. The local value chain of ASM is quite complex, involving various actors (miners, buyers/traders). 
  • Gold mining activities pose significant threats to biodiversity as a significant proportion of the country’s gold deposits are located within the High Forest Zone of Ghana (HFZ) which is part of the Upper Guinean Forest of West Africa (1 of the 36 globally recognised biodiversity hotspots).
  • The majority of ASM operations in Ghana involves surface mining which invariably leads to vegetation clearance and destruction. The impact of mining also triggers indirect deforestation through degradation and destruction of arable farmland. 
  • Mining operations, particularly those of ASM, result in water pollution, soil and land degradation, posing significant health risks. Mining impacts on water bodies have been particularly highlighted with studies indicating that high turbidity, oil and grease, arsenic and mercury pollution (associated with gold recovery processes) are the major threats.