By: Freeman Koryekpor| www.africanakua.com, Ghana
Information available to AFRICA NAKUA indicates that over four hundred and seventy-eight (478) miners died in mining related incidents in Ghana in the last five years.
Although the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) were tight-lipped on the information, AFRICA NAKUA gathered that the frightened incidents which occurred between 2015 and 2019 involved workers who are Ghanaians and foreigners (Chinese nationals) in both large scale and illegal small scale mining companies.
In 2018, there was a mining related incident that occurred in Newmont Ahafo mine site at Ntotroso in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana which took away the lives of six able men and seriously injured four others who were workers of Consar Limited, a contractor of Newmont.
Consar Limited, whilst reclaiming the tunnel roof at Newmont Ghana’s Ahafo mill expansion project, a concrete slab fell on ten of the workers and killed six men on the spot and injured four others who were under the shell.
On Thursday January 24, 2019, twenty two (22) people were killed in an accident at a gold mining site in the Talensi area of the Upper East Region early on Wednesday near a site operated by China’s Shaanxi Mining Company Limited.
In July 2017, at least 42 people were killed after an illegal goldmine collapsed in western Ghana.
In April 2015, three people died and 16 others required medical treatment after inhaling toxic fumes at the Shaanxi mine.
The mining related incidents was attributed to a direct consequence of poor safety conditions at their operations.
There have been serious agitation in the country for which many concerned including social commentators blamed the increased involvement of foreign companies bringing undocumented immigrants to the country and highlighted that between 2018 and 2019 alone there were over hundreds of illegal mining-related deaths reported.
Illicit mining in Ghana has become a major problem over the past few months, with an estimated 10,000 immigrants —most of them Chinese— engaged in such activities and it has risen concerns about the environmental impact of that kind of mining.
Some few months ago, many Chinese nationals were arrested and are now facing deportation for possessing fake entry permits and engaging in illegal extraction of gold.
Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) has since then launched an internal inquiry into allegations that some of its officers have received bribes in exchange for work permits.
Ghana is Africa’s second-largest gold producer after South Africa and small-scale mining accounts for about 30 per cent of total gold output. The small-scale mining sector was legalised in 1989 for citizens while explicitly forbidding the involvement of foreigners. But since 2010, Ghana has become an attractive destination for foreign gold mercantilists, particularly those from China.
The Chinese miners in Ghana, generally known as the ‘Shanglin gang’, predominantly originate from Shanglin County in Guangxi. Their motivations for moving are varied.
While Chinese media sources such as the Guangzhou-based 21st Century Business Herald suggest that Shanglin miners go to Ghana to seek their fortune, some residents of Shanglin blame the Chinese government for encouraging the Ghanaian gold rush.