A video circulating on social media has a group of seven unlicensed miners in Southern Ghana who claim to have unearthed what is being suggested to be the largest gold nugget in the history of Ghana. The video has been circulated on various social media platforms like Chakabars, an Instagram user with 1.2 million followers.
The video has gathered over 52k likes and 21.9K shares at the time of the report. According to the video, the group uncovered a mineral that required more than one person to transport. Comments on the video suggest people have accepted the claim as true whilst others have debunked it. This has necessitated a closer look into Ghana’s mining adventure. Additionally, news articles by some online news portals also published articles on the newly found largest gold nugget in the history of Ghana.
Small scale mining
Small scale mining in Ghana dates back to the 5th Century. In 2006 it was incorporated into the new Minerals and Mining Act 2006 (Act 703). Across the mining communities, however, emerged the practice of gathering gold grains from mining tailings which has become famously known as Galamsey- to wit (gather them and sell). It all began in the Prestea GoldFields Ltd and has since taken on criminal and devastating consequences. The financial implications are also telling. In 2016 alone, an estimated $2.3 billion worth of gold left the shores of Ghana.
It is exactly because of the social, environmental and financial impact of illegal mining on the country that the news of the suspected biggest nugget of gold found would be of interest to DUBAWA. However, attempts to locate the exact pit where the suspected nugget was dug have been fruitless. Media reports suggest it was dug in a pit in the Ashanti Region. Attempts to also locate the miners who dug out the nugget have also not yielded any fruits. But can a nugget that size be dug in a galamsey pit?
What are the experts saying?
An interview with a Geologist, Mawuli Senyo Akpanya, revealed that what is being suggested to be the largest nugget of gold is pyrite or quartz, a hard mineral material usually used in the production of watches and other materials.
Based on his analysis of the video, he determined that the quartz has mingled with gold in the mining area, which lends to the goldish look of the mineral. Mr Akpanya explained that the quartz mineral can mingle with other minerals, which is the case of the viral video, and with further scrutiny of the footage, he concluded that it is indeed quartz that has mingled with a small amount of gold around it.
He added that “seven people cannot lift such “a” volume of nugget of gold.” He stated that it could be a pathfinder for gold. Mr Apkanya noted that if it was indeed gold, they would not bring “it” into the public domain but would rather parcel and hide it for their parochial interest.
The National Communication Director for Small Scale Miners, Abdul Razak Alhassan, after carefully examining the video, also confirmed that the claim that the nugget of gold is a rock that is being pulled under the gravel where they have placed the Changfang, a caterpillar machine used for mining. He thus advised the public to disregard the information being circulated that the largest nugget of gold had been found in the country. In a response to a question on the procedure involved when such nuggets are found in the country, the National Communication Director for Small Scale Miners disclosed that discovering gold by miners is purely business and it is not announced in the public domain.
He said, “What usually happens when you find gold as a miner is that you either sell it in its raw form or you refine it. It really has nothing to do with either the public or the Minerals Commission.” The Minerals Commission, according to him, plays a supervisory role and does not interfere in the business of miners. However, Mr Razak quickly stressed the importance of miners setting their records straight and declaring their assets to the Minerals Commission. This will help them to tax the money miners accrue from their mining businesses. Mr Razak Alhassan further revealed that quantifying the amount of gold claimed to be found by the illegal miners will cost billions of dollars since one gram of gold found is even quantified as five hundred or six hundred Ghana Cedis. He, however, noted that over the past years this amount of gold has never been discovered in the country. Rockseekers.com, a website dedicated to sharing knowledge about rocks and minerals, founded by geologist Don Gerig, has an article on “6 Rocks That Contain Gold”, which lists quartz as one such. According to the article, “Quartz is classically aligned with gold. Most hard rock deposits appear to occur in quartz, and gold-in-quartz has even taken on a life of its own.” The article further states that the correct term for quartz that contains gold is auriferous quartz.
Upon online investigation and experts’ opinion, the claimed nugget of gold seen in the viral video has been established as a rock even though its type has not been determined.
This report was produced under the Department of Communication Studies and DUBAWA’s project aimed at improving fact-checking competency and practice among Ghanaian media organizations with support from UNESCO IPDC.