Forest reserves in Ghana must be protected from mining, says cardinal


Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

Date of publication: 
1 March 2010

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Mining companies must be blocked from extracting minerals from Ghana’s few remaining forest preserves, said the head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

The former archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana, Cardinal Peter Turkson, said he recently wrote a letter to Ghana’s president, John Atta Mills, urging him “to refuse to give in to a multinational company that is asking permission to start mining in one of the few remaining forest preserves” in Ghana.

During a talk at an Italian school of theology in Florence March 1, the cardinal explained that Ghana — once called the Gold Coast — has long been targeted for mineral exploitation first by colonizing European nations and now by Western mining companies.

Minerals used to be extracted using underground methods, which left much of the land “relatively undisturbed; however today the mining method is open-pit or strip mining and this totally destroys the land’s natural surface,” he said.

He said he felt compelled to write the country’s president to encourage him to protect the forest’s natural habitat from mining, saying “indiscriminate mineral extraction destroys not only nature, but also human life and society.”