Business News of Saturday, 13 April 2013
Source: Ministry of Lands
Governments of Ghana and China have resolved to establish a high-powered working committee to review circumstances leading to the influx of illegal Chinese miners to Ghana and bring up an integrated roadmap to stop the influx.
The Committee will be constituted with representatives from Ministries of Lands and Natural Resources, Interior, Local Government & Rural Development, Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs and Environment, Science & Technology.
The others are the Chinese Embassy, Minerals Commission, National Security and Ghana Immigration Service. The Committee was also tasked to bring-up information which will assist both governments to work effectively stop the influx and explore appropriate mechanisms to promote the mining industry as one of the key areas for co-operation to enhance Ghana-China relations.
The resolution was made at a high level meeting between Ghana and China. Held at the behest of the President of the Republic of Ghana, the meeting provided a platform for senior government officials to explore a holistic and lasting solution to the influx of illegal Chinese miners and address issues arising from the recent incarceration of Chinese nationals for illegal mining in Ghana.
Hon Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, Sector Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, leader of the Ghanaian team, chaired the meeting while Mr. Cui Aimin, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led the Chinese delegation. Mr. Cui re-affirmed the growing Ghana-China relations and cited landmark projects like the construction of the Ghana Gas plant, Cape Coast Sports Complex, University of Ghana Medical Training School, among others, as ample manifestations of increased Chinese bilateral assistance to Ghana.
The Chinese envoy emphasised the urgent need for the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) to step-up monitoring of all entry points to the country to ensure that Chinese without the requisite documents are not allowed into the country and indicated the readiness of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security to assist its Ghanaian counterparts to stop criminal groups in Ghana from luring Chinese nationals into the country to engage in illegal mining.
He registered grave concern over the mass arrest of Chinese nationals and cautioned Ghana security officials against inhumane treatment of Chinese detainees to protect the special friendship between Ghana and China. He gave the assurance that his government will deport all Chinese nationals found to be engaged in illegal mining.
Responding, Hon Inusah Fuseini acknowledged the excellent and long-standing ties between the two countries and cautioned that Ghana will not allow a few bad elements to derail or negate the huge investment made by both countries into growing Ghana-China relations. On the manhandling of Chinese detainees, the sector Minister intimated that Ghana’s commitment to the fundamental human rights is evidenced by the release of 19 of the Chinese detainees for medical attention. Hon Inusah Fuseini described the use of arms by some illegal Chinese miners to protect their activities as an unacceptable practice which poses a grave national security challenge for the nation and stressed that the government’s security apparatus will take necessary action to clamp down on this practice to safeguard public peace.
He stressed that the small scale mining sector was reserved for only Ghanaians as stipulated by the Minerals & Mining Act 2006 and warned that license of artisanal operators who engage Chinese nationals or other foreign nationals in their mining operations will be withdrawn and indicated that both Chinese illegal miners and their Ghanaian collaborators will be made to face the full rigours of the law.
On concerns raised about undue media hype given to arrest of Chinese nationals for illegal mining, Hon Fuseini pointed out that government has no control over the Ghanaian media and urged the Chinese government to intensify education of its all nationals interested in the industry on mining laws in Ghana particularly the need to conduct the requisite due diligence before they set-up in Ghana. The sector Minister described the escalating cost of treating polluted water bodies for use of local communities and reclamation of lands degraded by activities of illegal miners as well as the huge resources required by national security agencies to flush out these operators as a colossal drain on the nation’s resources and indicated that the government of Ghana will welcome Chinese government assistance for its reclamation programmes.