Renowned Ghanaians gold mining tycoon, Dr. Sam Jonah has sounded a serious alarm that the illegal mining activities in cocoa-growing areas across Ghana have caused the harmful mercury used to extract gold to seep into Ghana’s cocoa beans.
In a statement titled “Down the Up Escalator: Reflections on Ghana’s Future by a Senior Citizen,” Dr. Sam Jonah raises a disturbing alarm that the traces of mercury in Ghana’s cocoa is set for proscription by international buyers and consequently causing the country to lose its main foreign exchange earner.
“I recently read about a rather disturbing information about cocoa. The Chinese having helped pollute our rivers through illegal mining activities and having, in connivance with some Ghanaians acquired large tracks of farmlands in the cocoa-growing areas have started producing their own cocoa. Their illicit mining activities release mercury into the soil. Mercury is indestructible and traces have been found in some of our cocoa beans,” Sam Jonah warned.
“What this means is that even our traditional source of revenue from which thousands of farmers obtain their livelihoods is no longer secure, as we risk losing the premium quality of our cocoa. This is a terrible prospect and it is one that must be tackled with a renewed sense of urgency… the inevitable conclusion from all of this is that the sustainability of our current sources of revenue is under threat.”
Already, the EU is beginning to tighten its noose around Ghana by planning to ban cocoa from the country due to the illegal mining activities surrounding it. Perhaps the main motivation of the EU is the rising traces of mercury in Ghana’s cocoa as has been alleged by Dr. Sam Jonah.
Unbeknownst to Ghanaians, while the illegal mining mafia in the Akufo Addo administration was facilitating Chinese illegal miners, aka Galamsey, China has been surreptitiously developing strains of cocoa to be cultivated in that country.
In October 2020, China exported its first 500 kilograms of cocoa to Belgium and earned a whopping US$3,600 from it. This is seven times more than what cocoa producers earn in Ghana from the same quantity of cocoa beans exported from Ghana.
China’s cocoa plantations in the Southern island province of Hainan are reportedly grown in massive stretches of greenhouses that mimic tropical weather, although Hainan has weather close to tropical too.
The Military and officials of the Akufo Addo administration have been fingered for heavily protecting illegal Chinese miners and their local conspirators who are destroying large swathe of cocoa farms to mine for gold.
Several ministers and party officials have been fingered in the illegal, destructive but lucrative mining including Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, the former Minister of Science and Environment and the then-Chairman of the Inter-ministerial Committee Against Illegal Mining (IMCIM) who was caught on tape discussing how to distribute seized illegal mining excavators to party officials to use it to mine their concessions and repatriate funds into the coffers of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Other names such as John Boadu, NPP General Secretary and Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah have all featured in those fingered to be controlling illegal mining concessions. They have denied the allegations, but insiders could swear that they are indeed part of the mining mafia.
While holding his former portfolio as Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo became infamous for his spirited defence of Aisha Huang, a notorious Chinese illegal miner nicknamed “Galamsey Queen”. Aisha Huang has reportedly destroyed several cocoa plantations with the due backing of government officials and had even been named in the murder of a man for resisting her rampage through the farms.
When she was arrested, the Akufo Addo administration refused to prosecute her, but allowed her to spirit her loot away to China, where she was later deported.
When confronted during a town hall meeting in the USA, Mr. Osafo Maafo shot down the agitation for Aisha Huang’s prosecution, saying her arrest will not bring any fresh development to Ghana, and that because Ghana was negotiating a questionable US$2 billion Sinohydro loan from China, the Akufo Addo government would not want to offset the cart by arresting the notorious Chinese.
The entire illegal mining operations of the Chinese have led to the destruction of virgin forests, cocoa plantations and river bodies in Ghana.