1n 1963 Lake Asubone was created artificially in Asubone near Akwatia in Denkyembour District of Ghana by Great Consolidated Diamonds (GCD) to provide water for its mining operation. However, after the downsizing of the Company in the late 70’s, the 68-hectare lake, has been left idle and almost forgotten, making it an easy target for illegal mining activities.
The goal of this writer is to create awareness about the existence of the lake which might be the second largest artificial lake in Ghana beside Volta Lake. The writer also wish to highlight its tourism potential for the country due to its close proximity to the national capital.
History of the Lake and Great Consolidated Diamonds Limited (GCD)
Diamonds were first discovered in the Gold Coast Colony (Ghana) near the Birim River close to the town of Abomoso in 1919. The Birim diamond discoveries led mining companies to invest along that river immediately. However, not until 1929 did organized diamond mining begin following additional diamond discoveries made by Ghanaian prospectors in the gravels of Tarkwa.
In 1924, the Consolidated African Selection Trust (CAST) was formed and became the major diamond mining company in Ghana. Over 2 million carats were mined by CAST from 1924 to 1939. CAST’s early success led to investment in other diamond exploration and mining ventures in West Africa. In 1963, to supply the much needed water for its expanded operations in Akwatia, Asubone Dam was created artificially to supply water which proved very useful.
In 1972, the National Redemption Council (NRC) instituted a policy of acquiring majority shares in mines in which the government was either a minority shareholder or held no shares at all. As a result, the Government established Ghana Consolidated Diamonds Ltd. (GCD) to take over majority shares of all of CAST’s diamond holdings. GCD and CAST became joint partners in diamond mining operations, as the government conducted a 55-percent nationalization of CAST holdings, which were placed under the authority of GCD. GCD production peaked from 1974 to 1977 with average production at 2.24 million carats per year. However, in subsequent years, GCD suffered from low investment in new equipment, exhaustion of its shallow diamond reserves, low world diamond prices, and a high Ghanaian inflation rate.
Official statistics showed that Great Consolidated Diamonds (GCD) had produced over 2.5 million carats of diamond annually between the 1960s and the 1980s. However, production dropped to 157,000 carats in 2003 and further dwindled to as low as 79,000 carats in 2007. The decrease in production was attributed to the lack of capital injection leading further to deterioration in mine infrastructure. “This therefore did not only aggravate the debt accumulation situation of the then GCD, but also led to the suspension of the company’s operation in 2007”.
In 2007 GCD closed down it operations, only maintaining a skeleton staff comprising of security personnel and a few technicians to keep electrical and other systems running on the complex. In 2011 GCDGL (a Ghanaian owned company under the Jospong Group of Companies) took over.
Impacts of Lake Asubone to tourism
The aforementioned 68 hector Lake provide a unique opportunity to expose to the world what has been kept from the general public for the past 55 (fifty-five) and its proximity to the national capital provide an additional reason for its development looking at the limited tourist destinations in the Eastern Region and Ghana as a whole. Is worth noting that tourism provide the following:
- Needs of tourists create new jobs.
- Tourists support local shops and products.
- Money from tourists can be used to conserve and improve the area.
- Services for tourists benefit local people, for example public transport and roads.
- Local people value and care for the environment.
Ghana stands to gain immensely by harnessing its potential.
By: Mr. Hanson Brako (Kwaebibirem District Manager – National Health Insurance Authority)