Cocoa, Palm plantations thrive in mine out areas

Cocoa and Palm plantations thrive very well in rehabilitated mining areas, Mr. James Badu, Environmental Manager of AngloGold Ashanti, Iduapriem Mines has said. He said: "All is not lost with mine out areas as most people perceive," and noted that even plants in mine out areas sometimes grow better because of the minerals released into the soil as a result of previous mining activity. He explained that certain useful minerals are released into the soil when ores are crushed and this serve a source of nourishment for plants. Mr. Badu said this during a press tour of selected mining areas in Tarkwa. The Mining tour organized by the Ghana Chamber of Mines was meant to give selected journalists from Accra first- hand information on mining firms operating in the country. He said not every part of a mining area was polluted as people imagine and explained that it was only the tailings dam where all the waste products from the mines are dumped that store pollutants. The tailings dam which has cyanide and other chemicals are usually rehabilitated with plants after the area is no longer in use. At the Iduapriem Mines, the environmental department had planted cocoa which had bore fruits among palm, pineapple, plantain and other crops. There were also naturally grown species of some plants on an 85 hectare of rehabilitated tailings dam site. Mr. Badu said the Iduapriem Mines had initiated a greening project for the mines and rehabilitation had also been successful, noting that the management of the mines hoped to make the community a better one after the life span of the mine had ended. Mr. Kwamena Sakyi-Yorke, Public Relations Manager at Iduapriem Mines, said as part of a community development programme, the mine bought most of its food stuff from local farmers. "We also engage the youth in the community on contract basis to work on the farms or other development programmes instituted by the mine." He said the mine had recently donated fifteen thousand Ghana cedis to the Wassa Fiase Educational fund and had invested over 230,000 Ghana Cedis in the construction of school buildings and teachers living quarters, provision of furniture, paying of teachers extra allowances, provision of a school bus as well as the institution of a scholarship scheme for brilliant but needy children in the last four years. At the Ghana Manganese Company Limited, Mr. Jurgen Eijgendaal, Managing Director, confirmed that plants as well as crops did well in mine out areas. He further explained that only two per cent of Ghana's land was used for mining so mining is not as dangerous as it was being portrayed rather mining was a useful tool for the development of any nation. Commenting on the Galamsey or illegal mining activities, Mr. Eijgendaal who is also the President of the Ghana Chamber of Mines said it was a social problem that needed to be solved using a social approach. He therefore called on government to help streamline the activities of illegal miners explaining that it was rather the activities of illegal miners that destroyed the environment.