Ouagadougou – The Burkinabe Minister for Mining, Quarries and Energy, Mr Salif Lamoussa Kabore, has said although mining contributes to the socio-economic development of West African countries, it has negative impact on the environment.
“Mining has been practiced in this sub-region for so many years but the rate at which it is being done in recent years leaves much to be desired due to our governments’ quest to open up for private investment,” he said.
He said mining remained an essential foreign exchange earner for some of the countries but it had to be done in a sustainable manner and not at the expense of the environment and the people.
The Minister said this in a speech read for him at the opening of a regional workshop for capacity building of the media on the theme: “Mining and the Protection of the Environment and Natural Resources in West Africa” that ended in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on Friday.
He said: “As people, we do not have to sit down unconcerned, till we start having acid rains from the pollutants, or downstream water becomes so contaminated and cannot be used for any domestic, agricultural or industrial activity.”
The five-day workshop, the sixth in a series, attracted 30 journalists from Ghana, Benin, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Mali, Niger, Guinea, Senegal and Burkina Faso.
Also in attendance were a participant from Cameroun and some parliamentarians from Burkina Faso.
The workshop was jointly organized by The Global Water Partnership (GWP) West Africa and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN-PACO) of West and Central Africa.
Five earlier workshops, all on environmental issues relating directly to water resources of the sub-region, have been held in some of the countries in the sub-region such as Mali, Niger, Benin, Ghana and Guinea, since 2007.
The Minister said governments, stakeholders and the media had a lot to do to “sensitize our people on the effects of mining. We need to promote the process of mitigating the impact of the exploitation of minerals on the land.
“Mining results in water pollution, deforestation, acid rain, and all other consequences that do not augur well for our countries. But if we do not allow the investor to do it the proper way, our local people will continue to engage in the illegal mining with its resultant deaths and degradations,” he said.
The GWP West Africa Chair, Mr Hama Arba Diallo, said the workshop was an opportunity for countries to re-assess their participation in the development process which was based on the right information from all actors for a sustainable development.
He said the media and parliament were very important institutions for information sharing for the development of any country and the workshop was aimed at creating the forum for the countries to create the awareness on the mistakes of mining.
“Open, artisanal or illegal mining is being done at great cost to countries and the issue must be looked at critically because it is done in a very disorganised,” Mr Diallo said.
Dr Aime Yameogo of IUCN-PACO said the institution was doing all in its power to help find pragmatic solutions to the most pressing environment and development challenges.
He said the dilemma of countries to preserve their natural resources and the need for exploitation for foreign exchange had affected many and it was important for decision makers to do the best in the interest of the people they serve. GNA