Illegal Chinese miners leave Ghana by the thousands

The crackdown on illegal Chinese miners continues, with more than 4,500 miners leaving Ghana since June.

“The Chinese (arrested)…as at 3rd July from 1st June is 571,” Ghana Immigration spokesman Francis Palmdeti said.

This includes those who were arrested and those who handed themselves in voluntarily to immigration authorities in Ghana, AFP reported.

A total of 4,592 Chinese have left the country since the government crackdown on illegal miners began, Palmdeti said.

The taskforce included police, military and immigration officials. They are looking to stamp out illegal small-scale miners criticised for damaging the environment.

More than 100 Chinese illegal miners were arrested in early June for illegal mining and that has increased since then to 161 and then 202.

Arrested Chinese citizens were seen on a bus early last month as they travelled from the Ghanaian immigration headquarters to the court hearing.

The jail cell at headquarters was filled with illegal miners who gathered around the cell’s one door to look at people walking by.

Palmdeti said majority of the Chinese who left the country were not arrested but left voluntarily when the taskforce began raiding mines.

“We believe a significant number of them were engaged in galamsey (local term for illegal mining),” he said.

“In the space of one month having such a single nationality leave is unusual.”

The taskforce is also arresting Russians, Nigerians and Niger citizens. Palmdeti said everyone who engages in illegal mining will be arrested regardless of nationality.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s Ghanaians or foreigners. Once your actions are injurious to the environment you will be stopped,” he said.

Illegal mining has resulted in violence in Ghana with an illegal Chinese miner shooting three locals with an AK47 earlier this year.

Last year’s government crackdown on illegal mining killed a 16-year-old Chinese miner, triggering protests in China.

Ghana is Africa’s second largest gold miner and the world’s number two cocoa producer. It trades raw materials with China, which drives China’s economy.

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