This year the Guardian exposed the scale of illegal Chinese goldmining in Ghana in a film that showed widespread excavating and use of toxic chemicals, and allegations of human rights abuses. Following the film’s publication, Ghana’s president, John Dramani Mahama, established a high-level taskforce, saying it was necessary to bring “sanity” to the mining sector.
Since then the government has launched a series of raids through the combined military, immigration and police taskforce. Towns that had swelled with the presence of illegal miners have been significantly affected, officials say. In Dunkwa, where the Guardian filmed this year, sources said the departure of Chinese had drastically affected the local economy.
“A very big change has happened in Dunkwa,” said one source, who did not want to be named. “They were the ones who provided the mining equipment – most of the Ghanaians left behind cannot continue their operations. It has really affected the mining. The local people are complaining because they say the Chinese were good for business. “Now everything has slowed down.”
But many Ghanaians have lauded the government’s efforts to curb illegal mining. The Chinese have attracted heavy criticism from Ghanaians for taking local jobs, wielding weapons such as AK-47 rifles, and polluting lakes and rivers.
“This illegal goldmining was compromising the environment. It was compromising the security of this country. It had a lot of social consequences and the government was losing a lot of resource revenue,” said Fuseini, the mines minister. “The Chinese were just plundering the resources. So what we have done is take action to stop the plunder and ensure that the resource needs of this country are not any way depleted in ways that breaks resource revenue of the state.”