Business News of Tuesday, 27 January 2015
Source: Graphic Online
The Chinese Embassy in Ghana says it is prepared to partner the government to deal with the illegal mining menace in the country.
The Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, Ms Sun Baohong, told journalists in Accra after a closed-door meeting with officials of the Minerals Commission that the Embassy would lead the campaign by educating Chinese citizens about Ghana’s mining laws and regulations.
Ghana has over the years struggled to deal with authorised practices since small-scale mining was legalised in 1986. Water bodies have been destroyed and deep trenches left behind on farmlands.
In July 2013 alone, the Ghana Immigration Service repatriated almost 4,000 Chinese to their country as part of efforts to end illegal mining known as galamsey.
Other illegal miners including Russians, Indians, Nigerians, Togolese and Nigeriens were also deported for their involvement in small-scale mining which is preserved for Ghanaians.
In some instances, there were skirmishes between the expatriate miners, especially the Chinese miners and local communities, sometimes resulting in bloodshed.
According to the Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners (GNASSM) the Chinese and Indian small-scale miners who were deported are returning to Ghana to engage in illegal mining.
The Chinese Ambassador said the visit to the commission “has provided us with the materials to educate Chinese citizens about the mining sector in Ghana.”
“For the Chinese Embassy, we are against illegal mining and always educate our citizens to engage in legal business. They should engage in business the honest way and live in peace with societies in which they do their businesses,” she said.
“We have agreed that we should expand the co-operation between Ghana and China in the mining sector.” Earlier, the Chief Executive of the Minerals Commission, Dr Tony Aubyn, had said there were quite a number of Chinese citizens who had legally acquired mineral concessions that they were yet to develop.
That aside, he said, there were also Chinese companies that were supporting Ghanaians up north. “In the last 15 years, the way small-scale is produced has become more efficient in terms of the technique and technology from China. The use of excavators has also improved efficiency,” he said.
Dr Aubyn, however, expressed worry about the environmental havoc such technology was causing in some communities because of the unsustainable way the mining was done.
To reduce environmental tragedy, he said, the commission would want to collaborate with the embassy to ensure that mining could be done in a sustainable way which would be mutually beneficial to the two countries.
Currently, although small-scale mining is closed to foreigners, there are quite a number of foreigners in the sector. The Minerals Commission insists that the increasing number of foreigners engaged in small-scale mining is because Ghanaians front for them.
The commission’s statistics indicate that there are about 40 companies that have received licences for prospecting but have failed to do so between the last 10 and 15 years.