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Government of Ghana has consistently renewed its efforts to contain and if possible stop the mining of gold by unskilled groups it terms galamseyers scattered across much of the southern parts of the country.

More often, the concentration of Government actors has been on the fact that the groups have little or no knowledge of the effects of their illegal mining activities on the environment and water bodies.

In fact, large swathes of land have been cleared, large and deep pits hollowed out, forests cover removed and farms destroyed through the exploration activities of the miners.

Recently public outcry over discoloration of several water bodies, from which the Ghana Water Company Limited sources water for treatment for onward distribution, has awakened the conscience of the central government to act swiftly and save the situation.

Whereas the public sees the clampdown on galamsey activities as the mere exercise of governmental power through the deployment of armed troops, the political actors perhaps have seen that the solution is more than just the deployment of troops to mining sites.

Security experts have hinted that developing countries face substantially higher risks of violent conflicts if they are highly dependent on primary resources. And this is where the problem is, in the case of the Ghana and particularly the regions where government actors are willing to clamp down the activities of galamseyers.

In most of the areas where illegal mining is done, one can hardly see any development projects. Factories, schools, hospitals, potable water, electricity and motorable roads are rare sights in those mining villages and towns. The people are therefore forced to depend on the exploration of their God given mineral resources for survival.

Even though, Government actors somehow have the legal power to clampdown on galamsey, they’re equally morally paralyzed to act. And this is because; the state has failed in large part to provide the necessary social and economic conditions for the people to develop.
More interestingly, revenues from illegal mining operations are more than twice that of revenues of legal mining companies despite their large concessions, use of sophisticated machinery and the pluses they usually receive on environmental impact assessments of their activities.

The combined financial capacity of illegal miners and the thousands of somewhat uneducated men from deprived communities engaged in mining, coupled with easy access to weaponry in Ghana could help trigger a wave of armed conflict.

For now, conditions are rife and are harbingers of violent conflicts. The watch is ticking; government is watching and probably planning on the next move.

Jeffery Jones


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