Friday, July 05, 2013

While we were sleeping, Chinese miners were making millions of dollars from illegal mining in Ghana

Time magazine had an interesting piece recently:

Africa or Bust: Chinese Gold Miners Take Huge Risks

Hundreds of gold miners from southern China face destitution after they were deported from Ghana for illegal prospecting
Read more:

The article tells the almost sad story of a poverty-stricken Chinese man who borrowed $163,000 to buy equipment and travel to Ghana to engage in illegal mining. Unfortunately for him he was deported about a month before seeing returns on his investment. Note, I say almost sad story. It is hard to feel sympathy for someone who had actively been participating in surface mining activities that are wreaking environmental havoc in Ghana. Not only that. The story goes on to describe other Chinese who returned to their rural communities as far back as 2008 as dollar millionaires. 

Interestingly, the article in Time magazine is also accompanied by a picture of a small-scale mining site near Dunkwa-on-Offin, the capital of the Upper Denkyira East Municipality and just a few miles from where half of my family hails. Coincidentally or not, Upper Denkyira is also the site of the Discovery Channel series Jungle Gold. How is it that foreigners were participating in the degradation of our environment in Ghana and making bucket-loads of tax-free money right under our watch? Aside from mass deportations of Chinese, what is the government of Ghana doing to protect the environment? Is the government addressing the greater problem of Ghanaians engaged in environmentally destructive small-scale mining? So many questions, so few answers.  
I took this picture in December 2010 in one community in the Western Region  close to Upper Denkyira.  It shows small-scale gold miners boarding a truck after spending a hard day ruining the environment for their survival.  

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