Building peace in the minds of men and women

Project 674 - Human health impacts of mining activities in Sub-Sahara Africa

Brief outline of the project

The mining and extractive industry sector in Africa is extensively developed, largely dominated by small scale artisanal miners but also large multinational corporations are involved. Mining and processing of minerals significantly release potentially harmful elements (PHE) into the biophysical environment (UNEP, 2013) which have an impact on human and animal health (Rajaee et al., 2015, Musa et al, 2018). Environmentally unfriendly practices in the mining industry have been a monstrous albatross eroding the gains of regulatory effort (UNEP, 2013, Bawa, 2010, Pacyna et al., 2010). The upsurge of illegal mining has compounded the problem (Wilson et al., 2015 and Nyame, 2010). Water bodies in mining communities are heavily polluted with hazardous chemicals (Bozongo et al., 2004, Winde & Sandham, 2004; Rajaee et al., 2015, Cheyns et al, 2014). Studies carried out in Uganda, Kenya Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and DR Congo have found that local people close to mining and processing sites are exposed to dangerous mine wastes and there is evidence of poisoning and in some cases loss of lives (Schonfeldt et al., 2014; Mwesigye et. al, 2016, Banza et al, 2009; 2018, ). Governmental effort over the years to halt this menace has been unsuccessful, partially due to political interference and partly due to lack of sound scientific evidence of the negative impacts of these reckless mining practices on the ecosystem and public health. To fill this gap requires a study that will assess the gravity of the problem by documenting mine sites and the extent of pollutant distribution in the surrounding environment and its impacts on health of adjoining communities. The project will help achieve a number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (including: no poverty, zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, clean water and sanitation, protection, restoration and promotion of sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainable management of forests, combating desertification, and halting and reversing land degradation and biodiversity loss).

The project will involve:

  • Identification and mapping of abandoned and active mine sites in seven (7) Sub-Sahara African Countries (Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, DR Congo and Burkina Faso).
  • Sampling of environmental media (soil, surface water, groundwater, plant, vegetation, fish and rodents) for assessment of distribution of mine pollutants in the environment.
  • Selection of human biological samples for internal dose biomarkers to mine pollutants (mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, copper, cobalt, uranium, manganese, lithium, etc.).
  • Epidemiological assessment of possible association of health outcomes and exposure to mine pollutants (uranium, mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, etc.).
  • Development of policy brief documents for stakeholders."


Related Information

  • Duration: 2020-2023
  • IGCP Theme: Earth Resources


  • Dr Simon Sovoe (Ghana)
    E-mail: sovo35(at)
    Address: Environmental Protection Agency, Ghana, P. O. Box SG 128, Sogakope, Volta Region, Ghana