With South Africa at the top as the leading gold producer in Africa, Ghana follows closely at their heels. Gold dissolves in alkaline solutions of cyanide and in mercury to form amalgam (techniques used in mining). The precious mineral weighs half a ton per cubic foot and here in Ghana. The metal has proved useful for its malleable and shiny nature that makes it a great choice for metal working material. On-going research shows it can be used in electronic components; a single ounce can be stretched into very long wires (about 60 miles)! Gold also has dental and medical uses. Some have already realized a gold tooth while other research concludes that it is instrumental in the treatment of cancer and destroying tumours.

The precious mineral can, however, be said to be a lily in the valley; beautiful to behold yet poisonous in many ways. Extraction of gold poses many environmental and health hazards when it is poorly done and its beauty is short-lived when the bitterness of its consequences set in. This is a major source of concern to the government, environmentalists and individuals in mining areas.

The large scale mining companies pose little threat with new, advanced environmentally-friendly technology, however, small scale mining companies that are still into archaic methods of gold exploration are a serious threat to the environment and human survival hence the wild attempts being made by organizations such as the Ashanti Gold Corporation to regulate the industry in such a way that the miners operate in an efficient, environmentally-friendly manner; to use the words of the Honourable Minister of lands and resources in his speech on the government’s position on small scale mining.

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