Document Type : Case Study


1 Gold Fields Ghana Limited, Environmental Department, Tarkwa-Ghana

2 Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Civil Department, Kumasi-Ghana

3 Ghana Minerals Commission, Accra-Ghana


The uncontrolled spread of illegal artisanal small-scale gold mining (ASM), popularly termed “galamsey” in Ghana, has, for decades, impacted adversely upon water bodies, soils, wildlife, human health, and safety. A lack of understanding, however, of the types of galamsey, their operational attributes, and their relative impacts has unfortunately hindered an effective policy response despite numerous calls from civic societal groups to address this menace.
This paper is part of a comprehensive study in 11 selected municipal and district assemblies of the Western Region of Ghana to help provide an in-depth understanding into the galamsey operations in Ghana. It discusses the various forms of galamsey, their operational attributes, and relative environmental impacts.
Through extensive literature review, site visits, and task observations, five broad categories and 11 sub-groupings of galamsey were unearthed based on the gold deposit type, resources used, origin of technology used, mining, and processing style as well as the local names given. These include (1) Placer/alluvial galamsey (“dig and wash”, “washing plant”, “washing board”, “anwona”, dredging, and panning), (2) Underground galamsey (abandoned underground shafts and “sample pit”), (3) Surface (“chamfi”) galamsey, (4) Mill-House galamsey, and (5) Selection galamsey. Whilst the underground and selection galamsey involve ore mining only, the mill-house focuses exclusively on ore processing. The alluvial and surface galamsey, however, involve simultaneous mining and ore processing activities.
The information presented in this paper could prove valuable to policy formulation efforts, design, and implementation of effective wasteland remediation programs by governments, conservation organizations, and other stakeholders in hard-hit regions with similar illegal gold mining dilemma.


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