On February 9, 2023, the Government of Ghana (GoG), in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and United Nations industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), supported by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), held an inception workshop to officially launch the planetGOLD Ghana project dubbed "Advancing Formalization and Mercury-free Gold in Ghana". The workshop was held at the Labadi Beach Hotel, Accra.
The GEF funded project seeks to transform the Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) sector by minimizing the risks associated with mercury use in the ASGM sector, while improving financial inclusion and facilitating the transition to a formalized economy.
The Inception workshop was attended by high level representatives from key government agencies, academia, ASGM value chain actors, NGO’s, private sector organizations, and the media.
Mrs. Esi Nana Nerquaye-Tetteh, Ag. Deputy Executive Director of EPA, in her welcome address disclosed that, the Ghana Project is aligned with the Minamata Convention and anchored in the country’s National Action Plan to Reduce and where Feasible Eliminate the Use of Mercury in the ASGM Sector in Ghana (NAP).
She commended the GEF, UNDP and UNIDO on the planetGOLD initiative and for selecting Ghana for the second phase of the planetGOLD program. She emphasized the need for national and global efforts to safeguard human health and the environment from the dangers of mercury. Mrs. Esi Nerquaye-Tetteh urged all stakeholders to actively work towards the realization of the project objectives.
The Resident Representative of UNDP, Dr. Angela Lusigi on her part commended the EPA for its leadership during the project preparation phase with support from the UNDP, UNIDO and other co-financing partners. She noted that Ghana as Africa’s largest gold producer, and with over one million Ghanaians employed in the sector, this project represents a breakthrough in protecting human health and the environment from the harmful effect of Mercury in Ghana. She gave the assurance that, the UNDP is committed to working closely with the project partners to achieve sustainable results.
Dr. Lusigi added that the project will help Ghana achieve the objectives of the Minamata Convention and promote green structural transformation. She said the UNDP in partnership with other development partners and co-financiers will continue to support the EPA to implement the GEF funded project.
The Programme Coordinator, Environment and Energy UNIDO Regional Office Hub, Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. Oluyomi Banjo in his statement highlighted UNIDO's focus on reducing mercury use in ASGM through technology adoption, lab establishment, and capacity building in collaboration with institutions such as the University of Mines and Technology (UMAT) and Minerals Commission. Mr. Banjo said, Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining accounts for 37% of global anthropogenic mercury emissions. He underscored the vital role of gold mining as a major economic activity globally, with Ghana currently standing as Africa's largest gold producer, supporting 4.5 million people and yielding 130,000 kg of gold annually. Mr. Banjo emphasized UNIDO's longstanding partnership with the Ghanaian government, EPA, and other stakeholders, pledging further engagement.
Ms. Celeste Macauley, a Senior Mining Specialist at the World Bank mentioned that the World Bank welcomes the cross-agency engagement in Ghana’s artisanal and small-scale mining sector, particularly around environmental, economic and social impacts of ASGM.
She indicated that, like other development partners, the World Bank is committed to assisting the Government of Ghana to strengthen the environmental and governance framework around ASGM. Ms Macauley assured stakeholders of the Bank’s support for the planetGOLD Ghana project.
The Project Coordinator for the planetGOLD Ghana Project, Mr. Lovelace Sarpong in his presentation of the Project explained that the planetGOLD Ghana Project is a USD 6.35M GEF financed project with Co-financing of USD 44.8M from the Government of Ghana and other project partners. He revealed that, the project is a five-year project and is being implemented under the national implementation modality with support from UNDP and UNIDO. He disclosed that the project aims to overcome a sectorial context that encompasses a series of gaps that delay the national capacity to comply with Ghana’s obligations under Article 7 of the Minamata Convention. He mentioned that the project is in four components namely;
- Optimizing formalization through Jurisdictional Approaches;
- Accelerating financial Inclusion and responsible supply chain;
- Enhancing uptake of mercury free technologies; and
- Fostering Knowledge sharing and local capacity building support.
The project Coordinator clarified that the project which is expected to benefit at least 45,000 women and 55,000 men would in terms of environmental benefit avoid 9 MT of mercury from entering the environment from the ASGM Sector.
The Executive Director, EPA, Dr. Henry Kwabena Kokofu, in his keynote address underscored the significant contribution of the ASGM sector to Ghana's economy. He lamented the informal nature of the sector, which is marked by environmental pollution and unsafe chemical use, particularly mercury. Acknowledging public concern over illegal mining, he stressed the need for reforms to maximize benefits while minimizing negative impacts.
Dr. Kokofu stressed Ghana's commitment to sustainable Artisanal mining of Gold and other mineral resources. Touching on the planetGOLD Ghana project, he said the project will strengthen the needed political support for suitable policies and create the enabling environment for investments into the sector whiles opening up access to finance by miners.
Dr. Kokofu launched the planetGOLD Ghana project, expressing gratitude to GEF, national and global stakeholders for their effort towards sustainable mercury use and continuous support in implementing the provisions of the Minamata Convention and other multilateral environmental agreements. He said the EPA is committed to the successful implementation of all the project activities.