Family of Miners Arrested in Ghana Rally for Support

The SCMP reports that family and friends of at least 160 workers who were arrested in Ghana on Wednesday are rallying the government to provide assistance in Shanglin county, Guangxi, home to two thirds of more than 50,000 Chinese miners in Ghana:

Protesters began to gather outside the county government office building at 10am, holding placards and banners with slogans such as “Violent crackdown against Chinese in Ghana, Chinese nationals have been robbed” and “Lack of action by the Chinese embassy in Ghana”. [Source]

The protestors are said to be planning to travel to the state capital, Nanning, to escalate their demands.

Xinhua reported the arrest of 124 Chinese workers in Accra early on Thursday morning:

Francis Palmdeti, the head of public affairs of the GIS, told Xinhua in a telephonic interview that the Chinese arrestees were involved in illegal gold mining in the central region of Ashanti, as well as in western and eastern regions.

Some of them have overstayed without legal documents. The GIS are conducting further investigation to decide how many of them should be repatriated.

The Chinese Embassy in Ghana confirmed the arrests to Xinhua on Wednesday. The Embassy’s spokenperson, Yu Jie, said the embassy has urged the Ghanaian government to ensure the legal rights of the arrested personnel and called for strong discipline for Ghana security agencies in enforcing laws. [Source]

Chinese employers and employees are often criticised for their conduct in Africa. From The Guardian:

Ghana, the continent’s second-largest gold producer, has forbidden foreigners from working in its small-scale mines since the 1980s. Locals have criticised Chinese miners for taking local jobs, polluting lakes and rivers, and wielding weapons such as AK-47 rifles to ward off robbers. [Source]

The New York Times quotes a 2009 report on Chinese investment practices in Africa that describes “the systematic violations of workers’ rights” by the Chinese.

In a detailed account of Chinese mining in Ghana in the SCMP, Su Zhenyu, secretary general of the Chinese Mining Association in Ghana said:

“We contribute a great deal to Ghana’s gold exports […] If each of the 2,000 gold mines operated by the Chinese produces 50 grams [1.76 ounces] of gold a day and works 20 days a month, that would be 24 million grams [24 tonnes] a year. And we sell almost all of it to the official Precious Minerals Marketing Company.” [Source]

A report in Ghana’s state owned newspaper, The Graphic, is headlined: “Eleven illegal Chinese miners arrested.”

See a previous CDT post  about Chinese gold mining in Ghana.