Full Project – Environmental and health impact of mining on surrounding communities
1.1 Background of the Study
To achieve rapid economic development, many countries resort to various activities to exploit natural resources. One of such activities is mining. Consequently, mining is an important economic activity which has the potential of contributing to the development of areas endowed with the resource.
Mining activities, including prospecting, exploration, construction, operation, maintenance, expansion, abandonment, decommissioning and repurposing of a mine can impact social and environmental systems in a range of positive and negative, and direct and indirect ways. Mining can yield a range of benefits to societies, but it may also cause conflict, not least in relation to above-ground and sub-surface land use. Similarly, mining can alter environments, but remediation and mitigation can restore systems (Appleton, et al 2006).
A mineral can be defined as a naturally occurring element or chemical compound, crystalline in nature, formed as a result of geological processes (Nickel, 1995). They occur as aggregates, commonly referred to as rocks (Oshin, 2003). Minerals can be classified into the following groups based on their composition and uses: metallic minerals (e.g. Iron and Gold.); industrial minerals (limestone and baryte); construction minerals (gravel sand and rock aggregates); gemstones (Emerald and topaz); and mineral fuels (Coal and hydrocarbons).
For any mineral to be exploited, exploration must have taken place. The exploration phase includes a geological survey, an airborne geophysical survey, geochemical analysis, and reserve estimate. After a mineral deposit has been proven to be commercially viable, exploitation activity may commence (Newman, Rubio, Caro, Weintraub, & Eurek, 2010; Al-Usmani, 2011). The exploitation stage of a solid mineral consists of the mining of the relevant mineral. Mining could be open-pit when the mineral deposit occurs at shallow depths (e.g. coal and tin) and underground mining (coal). All the stages of mining result in different environmental damages (Newman et al., 2010; Al-Usmani, 2011), which were highlighted in a flow chart by Ashton, Love, Mahachi, and Dirks (2001); Pring, Otto, and Naito (1999) and Miranda et al. (2003).
Nigeria is a country endowed with vast and varied solid mineral resources which are widely distributed in virtually all of the states within the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory. Aigbedion and Iyayi (2007), Mallo (2012), and Adekoya, Kehinde-Philips, and Odukoya (2003) listed some of the minerals in Nigeria and their current level of exploitation. There have been a series of negative reports from illegal mining of gold and mercury in the Northern part of Nigeria. If mining activities are not monitored and best practices are not put into place, the consequences can be devastating. Therefore, there is a need to protect the environment and the monitoring of mining activities is required.
Earlier studies on the environmental implications of solid mineral exploration and exploitation in Nigeria encompassed studies on selected aspects of the environment, i.e. water and ecology, and these studies seldom encompassed the entire environment. Musa and Jiya (2011) assessed the impact of Mining Activities on Vegetation in Jos Plateau using the Normalized Differential Vegetation Index (NDVI) and concluded that mining greatly affected the natural ecology of the study area and organisms and plants were stripped of their natural habitat due to tin mining activities. Gyang and Ashano (2010) assessed the effects of mining on water quality in some selected parts of Jos Plateau and concluded that tin mining has no significant effect on the quality of water in the region.
Ndace and Danladi (2012) assessed the biophysical impacts of tin mining activities in Jos, and they concluded that mining has greatly affected the natural ecology and therefore mining sites should be monitored, their environmental damages should be determined, mitigation studies should be performed, and there should be regular inspections to keep these activities under control. Qureshi, Maurice, and Öhlander (2016) assessed the potential of coal mine waste rock in generating acid mine drainage (AMD) and concluded that the waste rocks (WRs) have significant AMD-generation potential and may significantly impair the quality of natural waters, by leaching excessive quantities of major and trace elements, when compared to the world health organization (WHO) drinking water standards.
The main minerals produced by large-scale companies are gold, diamond, bauxite and manganese, while industrial minerals such as kaolin, limestone, silica and sand are mainly produced by small-scale operators (Aryee, 2001). While foreigners are the main owners of the large mining companies, the government and private Ghanaian investors account for less than 15 per cent of the shares in these mines. Small-scale mining activity is statutorily restricted to Ghanaians (Aryee, 2001). According to Akabzaa and Darimani (2001), “both foreign and local companies are actively involved in exploration of minerals. By October 2000, 224 local and foreign companies held mineral rights for gold exploration and exploitation, while over 600 registered small-scale miners, along with an estimated 200,000 informal miners, popularly called “galamsey operators”, were scattered on prospecting grounds throughout the country”.
Mining activities have lots of environmental and health impacts. This has emanated from the methods of operation by the mining companies, its effects on the natural environment as well as the people in the surrounding communities. The health cost of mining operations sometimes outweighs the benefits gained. In view of this, Awudi (2002) has maintained that, “despite these positive indicators, the role of the mining industry in the economic development of Ghana is a suspect. Despite the over U$2 billion Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in mineral exploration and mine development during the last decade indicating over 56% of total FDI flows to the country, (with the attendant increase in mineral export) the sector is yet to make any meaningful impact on the country’s overall economy”.
The gains from the sector in the form of increased investment are being achieved at great environmental, health and social costs to the people, recording series of public outcry against the mining companies operating in Ghana who themselves are yet to explicitly concede that their investments are inherently a major pollutant and a source of social conflicts around (Awudi, 2002).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
According to the annual report of the Environmental Management Plan (E.M.P), 17,460 cases of malaria were reported amongst its employees, reflecting a malaria lost-time injury frequency rate (MLTIFR) of 721.7 per million man-hours (Obuasi Mine Report, 2005). This was one of the indirect effects of the mining activities.
A conference organized by the Centre for Biodiversity and Utilization Development (CBUD) of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) on 2nd August 2006 dubbed “The mines corporate social responsibility towards sustainable alternative livelihood to affected communities in Ghana mines sector” was partly in response to the health problems arising from mining activities in the country. The Chamber of Mines, on its part has therefore, sought to order all of its members to embark on Sustainable Alternative Livelihood Programme (S.A.L.P.) (Ghana Chamber of Mines, 2006).
It has been observed that mining activities have great degrading effects on the physical environment of the host communities, which can cause serious health hazards for the members of the mining communities. There are incidences of child labour, and social relations have been affected.
Policies and efforts have been made towards the development of the solid mineral sector in Nigeria; notwithstanding, less attention has been paid to the relationship between the miners and their host communities. This has resulted to a haphazard development or complete lack of development in the mining communities. Besides, most mining communities experience environmental degradation, pollution, and loss of arable land that affect the general socio- economic well-being of the people living in those communities. This can cause hostility between them and the mining companies or miners. In essence, there has been a gap in the relationship between the communities and the mining industry, which may go a long way to affect the overall development of the industry.
Also, a thorough research into the current environmental and health impacts (both positive and negative) of mines, one of the main areas of operation by the Company Limited, on the surrounding communities, is therefore a necessity.
It is in the light of the above that this study is set to examine the environmental impacts of mining in wase local government area of Plateau State.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study are:
- To examine the methods of mining operations and their effects on the environment.
- To determine the diseases prevalent in the surrounding communities resulting from the mining activities.
- To find out the effects of mining on farming (food production) activities within the study area.
- To determine and examine the interventional measures put in place Wase mines in ensuring the safety of residents in the surrounding communities.
1.4 Research questions
- What are the methods of mining operations and their effects on the environment?
- What are the prevalent diseases in the surrounding community resulting from the mining activities?
- What are the effects of mining on farming activities (food production) in the study area?
- What are the interventional measures put in place in wase mines?
- Significance of the Study
- This study will be of great benefits to the countries that are involved in the extraction of mineral resources, both internal and external.
- This study can help in the creation of employment and revenue generation.
- It will serve as a material for government policy direction and its finding as well as the recommendations to improves the various mining methods and operations employed by the companies..
- This research will serves as a reference for those students who may wish to conduct similar research in the field and different study area.
1.6 Scope and Limitations of the Study
The study is aimed in the assessment of some environmental impacts of mining in Wase local government area of Plateau State.
Five (5) local government areas of wase were chosen to form the scope of this study. They are;
Financial and time constraints are the factors that made us limit the scope to these 5 local governments mentioned above
1.7 Definition of Key Terms
(a) Exploitation: The exploitation of natural resources is the use of natural resources for economic growth, sometimes with a negative connotation of accompanying environmental degradation.
(b) Mineral Deposit: A mineral deposit is a natural concentration of minerals in the earth’s crust. The degree of concentration is called the “grade” of a mineral deposit. An “ore deposit” is a mineral deposit which has high enough grades of metal that makes it economic to mine.
(c) Exploration: Exploration is the act of searching for the purpose of discovery of information or resources. Exploration occurs in all non-sessile animal species, including humans.
(d) Excavation: Excavation is the exposure, processing and recording of archaeological remains. An excavation site or “dig” is the area being studied.
(e) Environmental Impact: An environmental impact is defined as any change to the environment, whether adverse or beneficial, resulting from a facility’s activities, products, or services. In other words it is the effect that people’s actions have on the environment
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Full Project – Environmental and health impact of mining on surrounding communities