Open Access Peer-reviewed

Technical Report on Reclamation of Small Scale Surface Mined Lands in Ghana: A Landscape Perspective

J.B.K Asiedu
Department of Crop Science, University of Cape Coast. Cape Coast, Ghana
American Journal of Environmental Protection. 2013, 1(2), 28-33. DOI: 10.12691/env-1-2-3
Published online: August 25, 2017

Abstract

Small scale mining activities which involve surface mining is an acceptable means of mineral exploitation in Ghana but has serious environmental consequences. Although a number of laws and research papers have been written on restoration after a piece of land has been mined, not much detail is provided on the actual processes involved. This review paper attempts a look at the process of restoration with projections on cost of restoration. Although it is based on activities at a predominantly farming community like Akyem Hemang in the Fanteakwa district of the Eastern region of Ghana, the principles involved will be applicable to other mining communities in the tropics. The paper looks at aspects of surface mining popular in rural areas of Ghana and attempt to explain the process of restoration with suggestions on how to measure success and how to involve affected communities to safe guard and ensure the success of the programme. A licensed concession can be as small as 3acres or as large as 25acres and can be mined for 3-5 years after which the land should be reclaimed to a productive state. The reclamation process, after field establishment should last for at least 5years to determine success. Small scale mining is defined as the use of rudimentary implements as well as the more sophisticated mining operating at a relatively low level of production with limited capital investment. It is carried out in rural farming communities and is popular with itinerant poorly educated people and usually results in severe deterioration to the environment, especially, crop land; posing serious health risks to communities in which it is carried out. The deterioration results from the destruction of vegetal cover and excavation of the overburden to assess the mineral bearing soil. Where farm lands or forested lands have been affected, a combination of natural and artificial reclamation is recommended. The process of reclamation should be planned and begins when topsoil at the mined site is removed to store separately from the subsoil and over-burden at the pre-mining stage. Topsoil however cannot be stored for too long as the quality deteriorates with time. Depending on the depth of excavation, restoration should involve importation and replacement of subsoil to a depth of 600mm - 900mm spread in 150mm layers, and left to settle naturally for a period of 3 -6months. When the land is sufficiently settled, topsoil mixed with manure should be laid over the subsoil to a depth of 150mm minimum after settling. This is followed by sowing of nitrogen fixing leguminous green manure by broadcasting to provide the first blanket of vegetative cover to protect the soil from the direct effect of the elements. Although Crotalaria juncea (Sunnhemp) is highly recommended nitrogen fixing leguminous annual with high biomass production for highly degraded land, other area-specific nitrogen fixing plants can be recommended by the area agricultural extension officer. About 60days after sowing of the green manure cover crop, when it is in bloom, it is smothered and worked into the soil. Seedlings of both local and exotic tree plants can then be established on the land after pegging and holing to 563seedlings per acre. The reclaimed land should be maintained and managed by maintaining a balance between introduced exotic tree seedlings and native sprouted tree seedlings by weeding, staking, and occasional pruning for at least 5years before any assessment for the success of the reclamation can be done. The estimated cost for reclamation of 1acre of mined land excavated to a depth of 900mm is about US$ 52,419.33 (Gh¢101,000), inclusive of 2-3% for maintenance.

Keywords:

galamsey, ground cover, organic manure, reclamation, small scale mining, topsoil
[1]  Al-Turki, A.I. “Quality Assessment of Commercially Produced Compost in Saudi Arabia Market”. International Journal of Agricultural Research. 5(2):70-79. 2010.View Article
 
[2]  Anonymous “Surface and underground Mining”. Indiana Department of Natural Resources, 2012. www.in.gov/dnr/reclamation/3565.htm [10/07/12].
 
[3]  Anonymous. Draft national Mining policy of Ghana 2010. http://www.ghana-mining.org/GhanaIMS/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=LmHT9VRIclI%3D&tabid=36&mid =930 [12/07/12].
 
[4]  Aryee, B.N.A., Ntibery, B.K. and Atorkui, E. “Trends in the Small-scale Mining of precious minerals in Ghana: A perspective on its environmental impact”. Journal of Cleaner production. (11) 131-140. 2003.
 
[5]  Bradshaw, A.D. “Underlying Principles of Restoration”. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Acquatic Science. 53 (Suppl. 1): 3-9. 1996.View Article
 
[6]  Cockcroft, B. “Orchard Soil management”. No 31. Our quest for the super soil. 2002. www.fgv.com.au/Downloads/Grower%20Info/SOIL/Soils31.pdf [08/10/09]
 
[7]  Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. Best practices Guidelines – A1. Small scale Mining. Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. Pretoria. p1-3, 7-16. 2006.
 
[8]  Diver, S. and Greer, L. “Sustainable Small Scale Nursery Production”. ATTRA National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. 2008. PubMed
 
[9]  Duerr, T., Salzer, T., and Bromley, J. “Surface Reclamation programme”. Division of Geology and Earth Resources. Washington State Dept of Natural Resources. Olympia. 2012.
 
[10]  FAO. Green manure/cover crops and crop rotation in conservation agriculture on small farms. Integrated Crop management Vol. 12. p9, 60-61. Rome. 2011.
 
[11]  Handel, S.N. “Restoration Ecology: Processes to advance Natural Landscape Restoration”. Honors Award. American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). 2009.
 
[12]  Hilson, G. A Contextual Review of the Ghanaian Small-Scale Mining Industry No. 76. “World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). International Institute of Environment and Development”. England. p 5-16. 2002.
 
[13]  Norman, D.K., Wampler, P. J., Throop, A.H., Schnitzer, E.F. and Roloff, J.M. “Best Management practices for Reclamation of Surface Mines in Washington and Oregon”. Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources. Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Olympia. 1997. http://www.dnr.wa.gov/businesspermits/topics/miningenergyresourceregulation/pages/smr.aspx [10/07/12].
 
[14]  Polster, D.F “Natural Vegetation Succession and Sustainable Reclamation”. Proceedings of the 15th Committee on Reclamation. Technical and Research. Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Kamloops, BC p 59-69. 1991.
 
[15]  Recycled Organics Unit (ROU), 4th Ed. “Manufacturing Quality Products for Compost”. Introduction to Australian Standards AS 4419-2002 Soils for Landscaping and Garden Use. Information Sheet No 3-10. Recycled Organics Unit. 2012. www.recycledorganics.com/infosheets/3pqc/IS3-10.pdf [23/12/12].
 
[16]  Sangakkara, U.R., Weerasekera, D.N. and Freyer, B. Green Manuring for tropical organic cropping- A comparative analysis. 16th IFOAM Organic World Congress, Modera, Italy. June 16-20, 2008.
 
[17]  Singh, J. Basic Horticulture. Kalyaris Publication. New Delhi. p65
 
[18]  Tetteh, E.N. “Evaluation of land Reclamation practices at AngloGold Ashanti; Iduapriem Mines Ltd, Tarkwa”. MSc Thesis. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi. P 19-44, 78-84, August. 2010.
 
[19]  TCPA, “Biodiversity by Design: A guide for Sustainable Communities”. Home and Communities for Sustainable Future. Town and Country Planning Association. London. P 6-8. 2004.
 
[20]  Yelpaala, K. “Mining, Sustainable Development and Health in Ghana: The Akwatia Case Study” Kaakpema Yelpaala. 2004.