Title: Economic burden of public health externalities associated with small scale mining in the Amansie West District of Ghana
Authors and Affiliations: Peter Agyei-Baffour1, Anthony Osei-Fosu2, J. Appiah Nrkumah2, KJ Popku Afriyie2
1 Department of Community Health, School of Medical Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana
2 Department of Economics, Faculty of Social Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana
Abstract: Mining is an important component of the economy of many nations, particularly in the developing countries. An example is 25 per cent of Guinea and 5.9 per cent of South Africa’s GDP and also majority of foreign revenues of these countries are mining related. An estimated 13million people worldwide are currently involved in Small-scale mining, and a further 80-100million people are affected by it. It produces between 350-800 tonnes of gold per year contributing about 20-30 per cent of global output. Small-scale gold mining is viewed as golden opportunity for the poor despite the public health and social challenges. Ghana is Africa’s second largest gold producer, producing 70 tonnes in 2003 and gold mining in Ghana has been an economic success story for international investors and the country’s economy. Gold earned $2.9billion in 2009, and only 22 per cent of that amount ($668million) was retained in the economy in terms of taxes, royalties and salaries .From 1992, the mineral industry became the single largest foreign exchange earner and gold accounts for 95 per cent of this. We propose to conduct a cross-sectional study with adults (≥ 18 years old) in some selected small-scale gold mining sites in the Amansie West district of Ghana in the Ashanti Region. Data will be collected using hair and urine samples from participants to measure organic and elemental mercury exposure, respectively, heart rate and blood pressure (systolic, diastolic) will be measured. In addition participants will be interviewed on demographics, water, social and infrastructural development, occupational and medical histories (including mining involvement)-respiration, auscultation, palpation and abdominal examination, cooking fuel use and household characteristics. An analysis of concentrations of heavy metals (arsenic, lead, cadmium, mercury) in drinking water from different water sources will be conducted. The economic burden (cost, lost income, livelihood, % of GDP, disability adjusted life years) associated with identified externalities will be estimated.