Galamsey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Galamsey, derived from the phrase "gather them and sell"[1], is a local Ghanaian term which means illegal small-scale gold mining in Ghana. Such workers are known as galamseyers or orpailleurs in neighboring Francophone nations.[2] Galamseyers are people who perform illegal gold mining independent of mining companies, digging small working pits, tunnels, and sluices by hand. Galamsey is also referred to as Illegal Artisanal Small Scale mining (ASM)[3]

Background[edit]

Generally the galamseyers can dig only to a limited depth, far shallower and smaller than commercial mining companies. Under current Ghanaian law, it is illegal for galamseyers to dig on land granted to mining companies as concessions or licenses. Most galamseyers find gold in free metallic dust form or they process oxide or sulphide gold ore using liquid mercury.

The number of galamseyers in Ghana is unknown, but believed to be from 20,000 to 50,000, including thousands from China.[4] The Information Minister recently claimed there are now 200,000 people engaged in galamsey, and according to other sources, there are nearly 3 million who rely on it for their livelihoods.[4] They mostly operate in the southern part of Ghana where there are substantial reserves of gold deposits, usually within the environs of the larger mining companies. As a group, they are economically disadvantaged. Galamsey settlements are usually poorer than neighboring agricultural villages. They have high rates of accidents and are exposed to mercury poisoning from their crude processing methods. Many women are among the workers, acting mostly as porters for the miners.

In some cases, galamseyers are the first to discover and work extensive gold deposits before mining companies find out and take over. Galamsey workings are an indicator of the presence of gold.

In the Francophone countries surrounding Ghana, similar local artisanal gold miners are called orpailleurs (French pronunciation: ​[ɔʁpajœʁ]).[2]

Types of Galamsey[5][edit]

Broad galamsey categories Galamsey types Key resource/material use Water relation Comments



1. Placer/alluvial

1. Washing Plant Washing plant/trommel, excavator, mercury, diesel, petrol and lubricants Operates near water bodies and requires high volume of clean water for operation Simultaneous mining and gold extraction
2. Washing Board Washing/sluice board, excavator, mercury, diesel, petrol and lubricants Operates near water bodies and requires high volume of clean water for operation
3. Anwona or Pit Dredging Pits, Suction Dredge, mercury, mercury, diesel, petrol and lubricants Operates within mini pit lakes or mine-out pits and require water
4. Stream/River Dredging River/Stream, Suction Dredge, mercury, mercury, diesel, petrol and lubricants Within water bodies-with adequate current
5. Dig and Wash & 6. Panning (“poolepoole”) Pan, shovels, pick axes, manual, sluice board, mercury In wetland areas, rivers/creeks/streams banks


2. Underground mining

7. Abandoned Underground Shaft/Tunnels Shaft, blasting, dewatering, load and haul of ore Underground/land-locked areas Mining Only
8. Sample Hole/Pit or “ghetto” Manually dug out pit, blasting, dewatering, mining Underground/land-locked areas


3. Mill house


9. Mill-house Operation

Chan Fa Engine, Crusher, Smoothing Machine, Retort, Mercury, Hydrocarbons Land-locked areas; near road side, within urban centers or may be near mining sites Processing Only


4. Chamfi/surface operation

10. Chamfi Chan Fa diesel powered engine, mercury, retort, mercury, diesel, petrol and lubricants Land-locked areas; either near or far from water bodies…but requires water for operation Simultaneous mining and gold extraction
5. Selection (“pilfering mining”) 11. Selection (normally from LSM & Licit ASM sites) Manual selection, Chan Fa, mill house, mortar & pestle/sluice board Land-locked areas; either near or far from water bodies…but requires water for operation Mining Only

Causes[edit]

The major cause of galamsey is unemployment among the youth in Ghana.[6] [7]Young university graduates rarely find work, and when they do it hardly sustains them. The result is that these youth go the extra mile to earn a living for themselves and their family. Another factor is that lack of job security.

Dangers[edit]

On November 13, 2009 a collapse occurred in an illegal, privately owned mine in Dompoase, in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. At least 18 workers were killed, including 13 women, who worked as porters for the miners. Officials described the disaster as the worst mine collapse in Ghanaian history.[8]

Environmental impact[edit]

Illegal mining damages the land and water supply.[9] In March 2017, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, gave the galamsey operators/illegal miners a three-week ultimatum to stop their activities or be prepared to face the law.[10] The activities by galamseyers have depleted Ghana's forest cover and they have caused water pollution, due to the crude and unregulated nature of the mining process.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Owusu-Nimo, F.; Mantey, J.; Nyarko, K. B.; Appiah-Effah, Eugene; Aubynn, A. (2018-02-01). "Spatial distribution patterns of illegal artisanal small scale gold mining (Galamsey) operations in Ghana: A focus on the Western Region". Heliyon. 4 (2): e00534. doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2018.e00534. ISSN 2405-8440.
  2. ^ a b "ORPAILLEUR : Définition de ORPAILLEUR". www.cnrtl.fr. Retrieved 2019-08-20.
  3. ^ Mantey, J.; Owusu-Nimo, F.; Nyarko, K. B.; Aubynn, A. (2017-01-01). "Operational dynamics of "Galamsey" within eleven selected districts of western region of Ghana". Journal of Mining and Environment. 8 (1): 11–34. doi:10.22044/jme.2016.627. ISSN 2251-8592.
  4. ^ a b "Gold, guns and China: Ghana's fight to end galamsey". African Arguments. 2017-05-30. Retrieved 2019-08-20.
  5. ^ Owusu-Nimo, F.; Mantey, J.; Nyarko, K. B.; Appiah-Effah, Eugene; Aubynn, A. (2018-02-01). "Spatial distribution patterns of illegal artisanal small scale gold mining (Galamsey) operations in Ghana: A focus on the Western Region". Heliyon. 4 (2): e00534. doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2018.e00534. ISSN 2405-8440.
  6. ^ Gracia, Zindzy (2018-01-31). "Causes and effects of galamsey in Ghana". Yen.com.gh - Ghana news. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  7. ^ "Galamsey menace: Causes, effects and solutions". www.ghanaweb.com. Retrieved 2020-02-20.
  8. ^ "Women die in Ghana mine collapse". BBC News. 2009-11-12. Retrieved 2009-11-12.
  9. ^ Ansah, Marian Efe (2017-03-22). "Galamsey, pollution destroying water bodies in Ghana - Water Company". Ghana News. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
  10. ^ Allotey, Godwin Akweiteh (2017-03-29). "Stop galamsey in 3 weeks or face the law - Amewu". Ghana News. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
  11. ^ Gyekye, Joyce. "MD of Ghana Water Company Limited says fight against galamsey is being lost". Ghana Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2018-05-22.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]