Gong Jianzhong, Chinese Ambassador to Ghana

The agency responsible for granting mining licences in Ghana, the Minerals Commission, has mounted a full-scale investigation into the scope of illegal mining operations being increasingly embarked upon by Chinese nationals in Ghana?s hinterlands.

Peter Awuah, the assistant manager for Minerals Title, told DAILY GUIDE that the commission had a strong conviction that the illegal Chinese miners were in an unholy alliance with certain indigenes who might be possessing small scale mining licences.  These licenses may have been passed on to the Chinese.

?Our problem is with our own people. How can I enter into a territory as a foreigner and you pretend not to know what is happening,? he said about the Chinese who were allegedly operating without the knowledge of chiefs within the affected communities.

Several Chinese nationals in the past months have been arrested for engaging in the illegal mining activities.

Some have tried to argue their way out by stating that they possessed small scale mining licence; but Mr. Awuah said this could not be right because small scale mining is the preserve of only Ghanaians and not foreigners.

According to him, foreigners who wanted to mine mineral resources in the country would need to apply for large scale mining.

The Chinese illegal gold miners are said to be using heavy equipment in their mining activities.  The result has been extreme environmental degradation in the operational areas.

But a Chinese investment banker, Ivan Siu, who spoke to DAILY GUIDE at the 51st anniversary of the treaty of friendship between Ghana and China (GHACHIFA), held in Accra on Saturday, said most of the Chinese nationals flooding the country to engage in mining were mostly semi-literates who were not well educated on the rules and regulations governing mining in Ghana.

According to Mr. Siu, the Chinese Embassy would need to intensify educational drive for its nationals in the country to warn them of certain practices that were regarded illegal in the country.

At the GHACHIFA ceremony, Chinese Ambassador to Ghana Gong Jianzhong promised to commit to solving the Galamsey problem. ?On our way forward, we would inevitably encounter some challenges and hurdles.

I myself and all my staff stand ready to work closely with our Ghanaian friends to respond and cope with those hurdles,? stated H.E Jianzhong.

China has grown to become an important bilateral partner to Ghana, providing hundreds of millions of dollars in grants and loans for infrastructural development.

Indeed, trade between the two countries has been growing steadily for a few years now. Currently, the bilateral trade between Ghana and China stands at approximately $2.5 billion.

?The number of newly registered Chinese investment projects continues to top Ghana?s FDI list. Undoubtedly, our fruitful cooperation has brought about tangible benefits to our two peoples,? stated the Chinese Ambassador.

By Raphael Adeniran

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