Title: Life cycle assessment of environmental impact assessment of artisanal mining in Ghana: A case study of Dunkwa
Authors and Affiliations: Samuel Obiri1, Edward Antwi2, Niladri Basu3, Mozhgon Rajaee3, O.D. Ansa-Ansare1, F.A. Armah4, Samuel J. Cobbina5
1Environmental Chemistry Division, Water Research Institute, Achimota, Ghana
2Department of Chemical Engineering, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana
3Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA
4Department of Geography, University of Western Ontario, Canada
5Department of Ecotourism and Environmental Management, University of Development Studies, Tamale, Ghana
Abstract: Gold mining in Ghana has played significant socio – economic for the past 1,000 years. The mining sector in Ghana is made up of large – scale and small – scale or artisanal miners as well as those operating illegally popularly called ‘galamsey’. During the development phase of small - scale mining projects, simultaneous engineering and environmental studies are conducted. One of the main challenges that the engineering and environmental teams phase is to agree on the level of project description information that is required to proceed with the environmental assessment. On the one hand, the engineering team is driven by economic reasons to produce more accurate cost estimation for capital and operational expenditures, but on the other hand the environmental team needs to be as accurate as possible with the assessment of the magnitude, geographic extent and duration of the environmental impacts to satisfy both legal regime as well as community to be affected by the mining operations expectation. However, this is usually not the case as most artisanal miners do not undertake environmental assessment of their activities and also weak enforcement of the environmental impact assessment laws by the regulatory agencies. This paper discusses this challenge and presents recommendations to focus on the key components of a mining project, which are the ones linked to the most important environmental impacts using life cycle environmental assessment tools.