El da Mina: Elmina The Gold Mine

Hundreds of prospective illegal miners have invaded the Elmina beach in a mad rush for gold. Some of the miners could be seen digging sand and washing it with sea water on palettes to collect the gold dust with mercury. It has been established that unlike the past when the prospectors travelled to Tarkwa to sell their gold dust, buyers have travelled from across the country to buy from the prospectors right at the beach. Some of the miners who spoke to Daily Graphic on condition of anonymity said business was booming as they made a “blade” or “half blade”, terms which the miners used as the measure for the quantity they gathered. It was also gathered that officials from the Minerals Commission from Takoradi had visited the scene to take samples of the sand for testing. Sources close to the Edina Traditional Council indicated that the council had invited the prospective miners to meet it for discussions on their activities but the miners did not respond to the call. Attempts to get the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to comment on the activities of the miners proved futile, as the Central Regional Director of the agency, Mr Kwasi Owusu-Sekyere, was said to have travelled to Accra on an official assignment. The Deputy Regional Director who said he had visited the scene could not make any comment, since he said he needed permission from his boss before he could make any comments on the situation. Some of the miners said since the sea waves filled the pits by the next morning, they did not see any environmental hazard from their activities. On the source of the gold, they said they believed it might have been contained in the silt dumped along the beach when the Benya Lagoon was dredged and that the silt which was carried away by the waves was now being washed ashore by the same waves. “El-Mina”, which means ‘gold mine’ in Portuguese, was linked with gold mining when Don Diego d’Azambuja set foot on the settlement known as Edina in 1472. Some of the residents told the Daily Graphic that the rush for gold could have serious consequences on the age-long booming fishing industry and education in the area, since some fishermen and children had abandoned their trade and classrooms to engage in the business.