$6.3m project on safe mining launched
The Government, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Industrial Organisation (UNIDO), yesterday launched in Accra a $6.3m project to minimise the use of mercury in mining.
The “PlanetGold Project” is meant to make small-scale gold mining safer, cleaner, and more profitable in the country.
On the theme ‘Advancing formalisation and mercury- free gold in Ghana’, it is being implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in partnership with UNDP, UNIDO and Global Environmental Facility for a five- year period spanning 2022 to 2027.
The implementation of the project is expected to minimise the risks posed by mercury use in the Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) sector by ensuring sound chemical management and eliminating pollution hazards.
Speaking at the launch, the Executive Director of EPA, Dr Henry Kwabena Kokofu, said the project would strengthen national and jurisdictional capacity to enhance Ghana’s compliance with the Minamata Convention, in accordance with national environmental policies, to support global platforms on mercury reduction, responsible supply chains and mineral resource governance.
He said the ASGM sector had witnessed consistent growth over the years, contributing about a third of the country’s total gold production, and substantially giving financial support to the economy.
The EPA executive director said the sector was still largely an informal one and was characterised by significant environmental pollution and degradation, which emanated from the use of unsafe chemicals such mercury in mining.
Dr Kokofu said even though the project could not start last year as scheduled, the implementation period would not change.
He noted that the project had come at an opportune time to improve the management of chemicals and eliminate pollution hazards, while improving financial inclusion and transition into the formal economy.
Dr Kokofu said the project was focused on “optimising formalisation through jurisdictional approaches, accelerating financial inclusion and responsible supply chains, enhancing the uptake of mercury- free technologies, fostering knowledge sharing and local capacity building support.”
“I would like to first express my sincere appreciation to our development partners for keeping faith with Ghana in our quest to put in place sustainable programmes and strategies for the implementation of the chemical- related multi-lateral agreements (MEAs) in fulfilment of the 2030 Global Agenda for Sustainable Development,” he said.
The Resident Representative of UNDP, Dr Angela Lusigi, said Ghana was Africa’s largest gold producer and with over one million Ghanaians employed in the sector.
She said the project represented a breakthrough in protecting hu man health and the environment, adding that the project would help Ghana achieve the Minamata Convention on Mercury and promote green structural transformation.
Stop shaking gas cylinders – Gas Expert advises
The public has been cautioned against the practice of shaking gas cylinders as a way of checking the quantity of gas in it.
“The act is dangerous and a recipe for an explosion and potential fire outbreak,” Mr. Samuel Otu Larbi, gas expert explained.
It has become a normal practice to see some people, especially women vehemently shaking their gas cylinders to check the quantity of gas in them.
Mr Otu Larbi, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Solution Solve Limited, said shaking the cylinders amounts to generating and building up pressure in the cylinder making it dangerous.
Mr Otu Larbi was speaking at the Ghana News Agency Tema Industrial News Hub Boardroom Dialogue where he addressed issues related to second-hand and home-used gas cylinders.
He advised that instead of shaking the cylinder, cold water could be poured on it and immediately the level of gas in it would show.
The gas cylinder could also be turned over to lie on its side, and if there is gas in it, the cylinder will become unstable on its own but if it is stable that means there is no gas.
Mr Otu Larbi explained that like all forms of energy, Liquefied Petroleum Gas was potentially hazardous if mishandled or misused and called on the authorities to ensure an informed and uniform approach to good safety practice.
He said controlling risks guarantee the health and safety of people and safeguard property and the environment and cautioned that the danger associated with LP Gas is always present, “ only the risk is reduced by behaviour.”
The major players, ‘the installer, the marketer, and the consumer’ have a major role to play in the safe handling of the gas, stressing that “LPG is potentially hazardous from production until it has been used.
“So, every uncontrolled release is a hazardous act and should receive urgent attention. Thus, even the smallest gas leak can be detected and should receive appropriate and immediate attention.”
He explained that the hazard associated with LPG could occur during transportation, delivery, or consumption of the gas.
On whether the usage of gas regulators with a valve could help in detecting the amount of gas in a cylinder, Mr Otu Larbi said, “ pressure regulators with gauges on the market are fake.”
He explained that gas is measured by volume and weight not by pressure adding that the gauges measure the pressure instead of the volume and weight.
He noted that the regulators work in a way that when the pressure is more the gauge indicates green and when it goes down it turns red, saying that does not mean the gas volume has finished.
He said when the pressure is low it does not mean the gas was finished in the cylinder stressing that “ it is more dangerous at that level because the vapour that makes it burn is still inside.”
The Gas Expert explained that pressure regulators open for the gas to come out when the vapour in the cylinder causes the gas to boil and builds up pressure.
Mr Otu Larbi added that when the pressure is not enough, it could not push the regulator to open making the user think it was finished.