Ghana Deports 39 Chinese After Swoop on Illegal Gold Mining

Ghana deported 39 Chinese nationals for unlawfully mining gold in the continent’s second-biggest producer of the metal.

As many as 15 others “have their tickets” to be expelled, Francis Palmdeti, head of public relations at Ghana Immigration Service said in an interview today. The miners were among 162 Chinese and six Russians arrested between June 1 and June 5 in Ghana’s Eastern, Central, Ashanti and Western regions, he said.

“Small-scale mining is prohibited to foreigners,” Palmdeti said. “Wherever we find small-scale mining activity going on and we happen to find foreigners in that business, we’ll have them arrested.”

In April, President John Dramani Mahama formed an inter-ministerial team to stop illegal mining operations in the country, where Johannesburg-based AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., Gold Fields Ltd. and Greenwood Village, Colorado-based Newmont Mining Corp. have legal, large-scale mines.

In the past two days, 57 people from West African countries including Niger, Togo and Nigeria were arrested at Kyebi, in the Eastern region, Palmdeti said. Three of those detained claimed to be Ghanaian, he said. The people didn’t have travel documents or small-scale mining permits and are being screened in consultation with the embassies of the countries, he said.

Another 202 Chinese volunteered to be repatriated on a promise by the Asian nation’s embassy to pay for their transportation, Palmdeti said.

The government’s team will expand into the northern part of the country, he said.

While Ghana wants investors to enter into mining, “all we are saying is that they should come through the regulatory framework,” Isaac Kojo Abraham, a senior public relations officer at Ghana’s Minerals Commission, said on June 6.

“If they come to do illegal mining, the nation loses the fees and taxes they would have paid for their activities,” he said. “The negative environmental and social impact also becomes very high.”

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