On May 31 2019, the new Danida-sponsored laboratory in the University of Mines & Technology (UMaT) in Tarkwa was officially inaugurated.
The Laboratory, the best of its kind on the African continent (with the possible exception of South Africa) has state-of-the-art advanced technology and provides an opportunity to the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) to offer analysis of water quality and wastewater, soil conditions, air, dust and noise pollution, and health conditions, both on-site at the University and also off-site through four mobile units.
The Laboratory is funded by a Danida Mixed Credit Facility for the University, set up with the aim of helping to change the face of research in the University and for the benefit of players in the extractive industry in particular and for Science, Technology and innovation in general. The Laboratory has seven units namely, including Analytical Chemistry, Geotechnical, Petrological, Geophysical, Air quality, Water & Waste Water Quality, and Mobile units.
Among the equipment for analytical chemistry, the Laboratory has a Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) which provides detailed high-resolution images of samples and can be used for mineral and material analysis. It is the only one in Africa
The mobile units can be transported around, hooked up to a four-wheel drive vehicle. This means that access to these advanced services to improve on testing and analysis can be available to all potential users, irrespective of location. Samples can be collected with the mobile units and either driven or flown to the main laboratory for testing.
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Danida Business Finance sponsored the establishment of this Environmental Monitoring Laboratory at UMaT with a Mixed Credit Facility of €8.6 million. Danida Business Finance provides soft loans for infrastructure projects that cannot otherwise be financed on commercial terms. To receive a loan, a project must be sustainable, support the national development plans of the government, and contribute to sustainable growth and employment in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
With the establishment of this Laboratory, UMaT is now able to provide consulting services, cooperate with the environmental authorities and the Minerals Commission in Ghana, in connection with environmental approvals and subsequent monitoring as an independent entity. Mining companies that do not have the necessary equipment themselves or are independent can contract UMaT to carry out these investigations.
The new laboratory facilities will also significantly strengthen education and research, services provided to the mining industry, EPA, and Minerals Commission Inspectorate Division.
Other stakeholders such as civil society and local communities will be able to use the services to document pollution, manage their interests and to influence decision-making at an informed basis.
Hands-on training has been provided under the project to selected participants from UMaT in Denmark and Germany on the major analytical equipment and site visits. The training has involved laboratory technicians, lecturers, and Ph. D students. The training has also updated the professional knowledge and skills of the selected teachers and technicians.
The laboratory was handed over to UMaT in February 2019. The official inauguration was on 31st May 2019 at the UMaT in Tarkwa.