Pra river in Ghana can become chemically contaminated if the government doesn’t act against illegal mining

Pra river in Ghana can become chemically contaminated if the government doesn’t act against illegal mining


Ghana’s government is determined to fight the scourge of illegal mining in the country, especially its scientifically proven consequences to the health of the people that live near the mining areas, announced the vice-president. But what can they really do to stop this disaster?

According to Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, “the issue of illegal mining is not just a simple one of the origin of the people engaging in it. It is about the environmental impact of the activity on human beings. So whether a Ghanaian or foreigner is engaging in illegal mining, a problem is being created”.

“I have seen a report by apprehensive scientist on the consequences of illegal mining on water quality; water that is unsafe for domestic use and unhealthy to support fish and other aquatic life, of degraded land unable to produce food, pools of water serving as mosquito breeding sites and child delinquencies”, said the vice-president during the 5th congregation of the University of Mines and Technology at Tarkwa, in the western region of Ghana.

One of the biggest problems caused by this activity is the use of mercury, which is poisonous to human health, getting into the food chain when accumulated in the fish. And let’s not forget about the furious deforestation, among others.


One of the major red flags pointed out by the scientists is the Pra River basin, which will soon be chemically contaminated if the illegal mining activities in the area aren’t stopped or properly regulated.

This is part of the introduction of the study “Mercury in different environmental compartments of the Pra River Basin, Ghana”, made by the Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences from the University of Florida:

“Artisanal gold mining (AGM) with metallic mercury has a long history in Ghana. It is believed to be over 2,000 years old. Today, AGM has escalated in a new dimension consuming about half of the country where gold lode deposits exist along riverbanks or rivers are alluvial-gold rich. The Pra River in southwestern Ghana is a site of on going application of metallic mercury in prospecting gold”

The Pra River is the largest of the three principal rivers of the country that drain the area south of the Volta divide, but if the exploration of the basin keeps going at this pace and with the current conditions, the river won’t be able to support human life for the next five years. Let’s hope that Ghana’s government can do something to stop this catastrophe.