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

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid