Gold mining in Northern Ghana
18 Apr 2017
There are many gold mines, both legal and illegal, in Ghana. Currently, there are a lot of debate surrounding the safety and ethics of mining practices with workers getting hurt or becoming ill, and foreigners taking advantage of the heavy local need for work. One occupational safety issue is the use of mercury to extract the gold from the ground-up rock during the sifting process. Pictured above is a piece of gold mixed with mercury and the left over mercury from the process. The cost of that piece of gold is approximately 250 Ghana Cedis, or 60 U.S. Dollars–a significant amount of money for these villagers. Because of the constant contact with mercury, as well as many other dangerous activities, many people die from mercury poisoning or related illnesses. To learn more about mercury and the deleterious health effects, please visit this fact sheet from the World Health Organization. For more information on the use of mercury in gold mining and how it relates to the economy and health of Ghana, you can read more in this journal article.
There is still much debate about how to best help the people involved, as they would be living in poverty without this work, but the side-effects from this work can potentially kill them. The government and other community leaders are working to help these people find alternative work or safer methods of mining, such as direct smelting.
The work of the Humanist Service Corps in Ghana is invaluable, and we're glad to bring you glimpses into Ghanaian life here on the FBB blog. Foundation Beyond Belief must raise at least $15,000 in the month of April to continue HSC's important work in 2017-2018. Please make your gift today to ensure we can sustain our culturally-responsible support for grassroots human rights organizations.