Thursday, June 12, 2008

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Wassa West District

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With the encouragement and support of the World Bank, Ghana revised its mining laws in the 1980s, privatising the industry and liberalising regulation. This resulted in several hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign investments in Ghana's mining industry. While this brought gold production to new highs, replacing cocoa as Ghana's most valuable commodity, it also resulted in social and environmental impacts that are proving to be unpopular locally and internationally.

Over 60 per cent of the Wassa West District in western Ghana is now under concession to large-scale gold mining companies, the greatest concentration of mining in a single district in Africa. The large footprints of these open-pit mines directly result in significant forest loss. In addition, related infrastructure and associated population growth indirectly drive even greater land cover conversion. Significant portions of Wasa West's tropical rainforest have been degraded by or lost to this gold mining boom since the 1980s.

The mines in Wassa West have been kept out of the forest reserves, which can be seen as dark green areas with clear straight boundaries in both the 1986 and 2002 images. However, the 2002 image shows that the footprints of mining operations in the district have grown dramatically since 1986.
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