Take “uncompromising stance” against Iron Ore Mining in Ghana: Catholic Bishop to Chiefs

Bishop Gabriel Akwasi Abiabo Mante of Ghana's Jasikan Diocese. Credit: St. John of God Society Ghana/Facebook

The Catholic Bishop of Jasikan in Ghana has called upon traditional leaders in Oti and Volta regions to take “a determined and uncompromising stance” demonstrating their opposition to the mining of iron ore and other minerals “yet to be discovered”.

In a Monday, November 21 statement, Bishop Gabriel Akwasi Abiabo Mante says the mining of iron ore, which was discovered in five districts in Oti region will be destructive to the environment and livelihood of the people of God in the West African nation. 

Bishop Akwasi adds that attempts have already been made to convince traditional leaders to allow this destruction in certain communities as if it is going to make the people in the affected territories rich by creating employment opportunities for indigenous youth.

We call upon the traditional leaders, both in the Oti and Volta Regions to take a determined and uncompromising stance against the mining of the mineral resources which have now been discovered and those yet to be discovered,” he says.

The Ghanaian Catholic Bishop says the greatest responsibility of traditional leaders is to protect the lives God has entrusted to them to lead.


In his statement, he also calls on the government officials serving in Oti and Volta regions “to re-examine whatever agreement they must have reached with companies which have been invited or contracted to mine these resources namely: the iron ore, the gold and the lithium.” 

The Oti Regional Minister, Joshua G. Makubu, said mining of the mineral is expected to start in 2023. 

In his November 21 statement, Akwasi says mining of the mineral will have implications that “outweigh the benefits that could be derived from mining the mineral resources.”

“Mining may generally create employment opportunities for local people. However, the obvious reality we know is that the quality of life of the people has been reduced due to denial of access to farm lands, leading to hunger and its related challenges,” he says.

The 75-year-old Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of Jasikan Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in May 1995 adds that in some excavation areas in the West African nation, the “inordinate quest for wealth” has enabled the use of chemicals and hazardous methods of mining, which harm the environment.

More in Africa

“Apart from the heavy ground-moving equipment that is being used – something that is a far cry from what our ancestors used in mining gold and other minerals without disturbing the environment, such dangerous chemicals as Lead, Cadmium, Zinc, Mercury, Arsenic, Chromium, Cyanide and Copper which have been introduced into mining activities with careless abandon, do nothing but cause harm to the growth, development, reproduction, and behavior of living things,” he says.  

The Ghanaian Catholic Bishop of further says that the chemicals have destroyed sources of domestic water, thus putting stress on women and children “who now walk very long distances in search of clean water, taking us back to the practices of very olden days.” 

“All these have negative correlation on the health of the people and the quality of education of children,” he says, adding that large plantations such as cocoa and oil palm have been destroyed by mining activities. 

The destruction of the plantations has affected the livelihoods of the people who can no longer engage in any meaningful subsistence farming, because of unavailability of productive land that is necessary to supplement their food needs, he says, adding that “local people in mining communities in Ghana are left poorer than a few decades ago.”

In the light of the highlighted challenges, the Ghanaian Bishop says that “a few pertinent questions arise.” 


“First, are the repercussions of mining these mineral resources mentioned above favourable or not to our people?” Bishop Akwasi queries, and further poses, “Will the mining of these mineral resources address the present and future needs of the people?” 

On November 11, Catholic Bishops in Ghana expressed concern about “galamsey or illegal mining activities and their devastating effect on the environment, our water bodies, the forest reserves and the quality of life of our people.”

“It is common knowledge that the main financiers/kingpins of this illegal mining include chiefs, politicians, Regional Ministers, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs), Security Personnel among others. This is the main reason for our inability to uproot the menace of galamsey and have difficulty in prosecuting those arrested for their involvement in illegal mining,” members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference (GCBC) said.

They urged the “relevant agencies responsible for the protection and preservation of our natural resources to ensure the prosecution of the financiers of activities that result in major crisis facing the country such as illegal mining (galamsey).”

“We strongly propose that a moratorium be placed on granting new concessions and issuing of licenses for mining,” GCBC members recommended, and added, “In the case where any actions have already been taken, we propose that operationalizing of the agreements be placed on hold until a clear pathway is developed to ensure modern and environmentally friendly mining.”

(Story continues below)

They continued, “Government in partnership with the private sector should engage all stakeholders to develop and operationalize alternative sources of livelihood for those involved in illegal mining.”

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.