The Export of Gold from Ghana

Gold is a major export commodity for Ghana, with this precious metal bringing in nearly 48 percent of the country’s revenue. After South Africa, Ghana is the largest gold producer in Africa and in the first quarter of 2012, the country earned around $1.5 billion through export of gold. According to the Bank of Ghana, the country will continue seeing an increase in revenue with gold exports. It is expected that in 2012, Ghana will earn more than $4 billion with gold exports.

In 2011, things were not very rosy for Ghana where gold exports were concerned. The country saw a decline of 6 percent in gold production, as many companies were concentrating on long-term maintenance and expansion rather than production.

The Export of Gold from Ghana

Ghana has always relied heavily on a select few commodities and exports just those. Gold is one such commodity. By doing this, Ghana has been able to protect its environment and also attract foreign investment. The country has always been a major producer of gold and today, it has the honour of having one of the largest gold reserves in the world. Thanks to the proactive initiatives taken by the government, gold exports are soaring with each passing day. With the help of foreign investment, Ghana has managed to improve output and also generate substantial job opportunities for its people.

The UK is Ghana’s largest export partner, but the country also exports gold to the EU and the United States.

Gold Mining and Environmental Issues in Ghana

More than 90 percent of the countries gold output occurs from the Ashanti region. The Ashanti Goldfields Corporation has modernised its operations and is using environmentally-friendly methods to mine and process gold. However, it is the 10 percent output that is a worrying factor. This 10 percent is in the form of small scale gold miners, who use outdated and harmful methods to extract gold. As a result, rivers are being diverted, and air, water and ground pollution has become a major issue in the country. In some areas, due to soil erosion and leaching, desertification has occurred. Many of these small scale miners use mercury to extract gold from the sediments and this has resulted in contamination of drinking water as well as groundwater. The locals are also suffering from health issues, thanks to mercury poisoning. The surrounding flora and fauna have not been spared either.

The government is also contemplating opening up its forests for gold mining. With foreign mining companies ready to invest and create thousands of jobs, the government is extremely tempted to help further its economy. However, this could be disastrous for the environment.

The Future of Gold Exports from Ghana

The government needs to ensure that gold mining companies use modern and environment-friendly methods to extract gold. If this does not happen, the environment will be damaged irreversibly and people in the surrounding areas would not be fit enough, both physically and mentally, to take up jobs in this sector. This will put an end to the gold mining and by default gold exports.

The challenge that the country faces is educating and imparting knowledge to the small scale miners, and then supporting them to switch to more modern and environment-friendly extraction methods. This requires funding and, hence, the government should look for private players and foreign investments.

Gold exports from Ghana will continue to rise, as the demand for this commodity is high. However, the ultimate cost of the exports maybe too high for Ghana to bear.


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