Mining in Ghana Responsible for 50% Loss of Treated Water

By Diogo Augusto

11 Nov 2022 by The Water Diplomat

The Ghana Water Company Limited stated this month that the pollution of water bodies through illegal mining is increasing the cost of water purification. Up to 50% of water supplied by water treatment facilities must be discarded for use because the salinity level does not comply with national standards.The result is a substantial reduction of the amount of water of sufficient quality that is available for use. 

Clifford Braimah was talking to national media outlet Ghanian Times as he toured water bodies in mining communities with Cecilia Abena Dapaah, the Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources.

Braimah said that mining activity was having an impact on water treatment processes and, instead of disposing of the usual 5% treated water due to high levels of salinity, the company was having to dispose of as much as 50% of treated water leaving populations with insufficient provision.

Illegal and artisanal small-scale mining, also known in the country as Galamsey has considerable environmental impact in the country destroying forest cover and releasing sludge to water streams.

This makes water treatment difficult and expensive as companies like GWCL see themselves forced to invest in specific chemicals and to stop operations frequently for maintenance.

During the same visit, Minister Dapaah condemned illegal mining practices. She said: “We all sit down and say it is the Ghanaian who leads the foreigners into the hinterlands to do this evil work. We should stop it. Every village and community knows its people. In every region, we know where they are. (…) So we should all work together as citizens to make sure we reclaim what God has given us.”

With water quality deteriorating in Ghana, the resource is becoming scarcer and more expensive. Braimah said in an interview to a local news outlet that if Ghanians insisted on maintaining illegal mining practices, then he would have to factor these into the water tariff and pass them on to the consumer.

As the Ghanian government is trying to come up with effective ways to tackle illegal mining, the Minister remains adamant in trying to shut it down: She said: “No matter who you are, if you go wrong in this fight, you will be dealt with seriously.”