News / Africa

    High Gold Prices Bring Chinese into Ghana's Mines

    Artisanal miners dig for gold in an open-pit concession near Dunkwa, western Ghana, February 15, 2011.
    Artisanal miners dig for gold in an open-pit concession near Dunkwa, western Ghana, February 15, 2011.
    Joana Mantey
    ACCRA — A recent influx of Chinese nationals into Ghana’s gold mining sector is raising concerns among policy makers and the country's citizens.  This is because the Chinese are engaged in small-scale mining, an area that in theory, is solely preserved for Ghanaians.  Most of them are also apparently working without a permit and on occasion extend their operations into some restricted areas, devastating the land in the process.

    Investments

    Ghana was known as the Gold Coast before gaining independence in 1957.  Since then the mineral has been one of the backbones of the nation’s economy.  So why this sudden interest in Ghana by Chinese small-scale miners?  Ahmed Nantogma is director of public affairs at Ghana’s Chamber of Mines. He said the main reason is the rise in the price of gold on the world market.

    From $200 an ounce about 10 years ago, gold is now trading at more than $1,500 an ounce.  Therefore, the Chinese are assured of good returns on their investments.

    “You go where your product is," said Nantogma. "So that is why they are not going to say, Congo or Liberia, they come to Ghana.  And they know they can take advantage of the situation and hide somewhere in a bush and mine illegally without paying taxes.”

    Land, community disruptions

    On occasion, conflict situations erupt between residents in mining communities and the Chinese miners.

    “The [Chinese] leave the land devastated, sometimes they do not even consult the people before they go there.  The people also feel that they own the resource.  They own the land and [Chinese] have come to take the gold away,” Nantogma explains.

    There are social factors at work too.

    Richard is a Ghanaian businessman.  He said the coming of the Chinese has raised rent prices for guest houses and hostels in some mining towns, such as Dunkwa-On-Offin in Ghana's Central region.  He said access to such accomodations is becoming difficult for Ghanians because most Chinese miners pay up front for months on end.

    Added to this is the devastating effect of illegal mining on the land.  Isaac Abraham is a Ghanaian worker. He said farmlands are destroyed and water bodies are polluted as a result of illegal mining. “Sometimes they dig the place and when they find no mineral they just move to another place just like that.  But with the regulated mining companies this does not happen,” he said.

    Kofi Tetteh is an assistant manager of small-scale mining at the Minerals Commission of Ghana.  He said licenses have been granted to about 1,000 small scale miners in Ghana.  He says many of these Ghanaians sublet their licenses to Chinese miners. “Behind every illegal Chinese operator, we are looking at an opinion leader, a chief, a farmer, a land owner or somebody who then sublets it to the Chinese for these illegal activities,” he said.

    Illegal mining

    The Ghana Immigration Service says there are about 3,000 Chinese in Ghana with resident permits.  However, the number of Chinese engaged in illegal gold mining activities is unclear, since none of them have been registered.  Under the Minerals and Mining Law of Ghana, people wishing to engage in any form of mining are required to obtain the needed license.

    Tetteh said enforcing the law on illegal mining is a problem in Ghana. “At times we apprehend these Chinese.  We send them to the law courts and the same law is used to set them free,” Tetteh added.

    Tetteh said the Minerals Commission is working to reform the law in order for stiffer punishments to apply not only to the Chinese but all other categories of people who may flout the law.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: concern.citizen
    August 29, 2012 10:50 AM
    The next thing I anticipate after this report is that the CHINESE will claim Ghana or Dunkwa to be a part of their territory, GHANIANS I believe you need to assert your rights before it will be taken away from you.China is already a huge territory. Your land can sufficiently provide for your basic needs...
    In Response

    by: John from: German
    August 29, 2012 10:55 PM
    Stupid idea. Chinese is not a threat ,most of them affected by peaceful Buddhism and Confucianism. What you should defend and fear is Islam,the true territory to the world, exist on murder and violence. Look at Holand,France,British...look at Europe now, Islam just like plague spreading everywhere. They will dominate Europe by the huge child birth and wipe all non-Islam out of this land,once it done, the next target will be Africa and America.

    by: Optimist
    August 29, 2012 10:28 AM
    Chinese are coming to Africa to get what's beneath the blessed African ground. If they come to a democratic country then we have no problem, because the democratic values of the nation will protect the individual citizen. The only problem is, sometimes when a Chinese company enters a non-democratic African country and they see lasting business potential there, they start protecting the regime to continue to oppress the people, and that becomes a source of conflict between us and the Chinese company doing business at the expense of the rights of the indigenous citizen.

    For instance, a Chinese company is working on building a dam in Ethiopia where over two million indigenous populace will seriously be affected as a result of the dam. Outside of Ethiopia some three more million people will be affected as a result. In addition to such violations, the Chinese are helping the Ethiopian regime to spread anti-democracy fear via eavesdropping apparatus. This is making telephone and internet communications out of reach, essentially hampering the ability for Ethiopians to organize and help citizens who are being affected by policies.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora