Chinese arrested for mining in disused mine shaft at Brahabebome
Security agencies have arrested two Chinese nationals who hired some young people at Brahabebome community in Tarkwa in the Western Region and using them to mine in a sealed-off and disused mine shaft which has been closed for almost 60 years.
What was even worrying is that the young people were working for the Chinese galamsey contractor who has engaged their services for a fee at the peril of their lives.
Information gathered indicates that they were arrested on Tuesday following the publication of a story about the development.
According to sources, the two have been transferred to Ghana Immigration Service Headquarters in Accra on Wednesday.
The persistence of illegal Chinese mining is also at the core, a partnership between Ghanaians and illegal Chinese gold miners to primarily satisfy economic motives.
Laws ban foreigners from small-scale mining
Chinese in Ghana operate in the small-scale mining sector, mainly as illegals, because the relevant laws explicitly bans the involvement of foreigners in small-scale mining.
Threat to the safety of the community
The Mantraim old shaft is not the place to be as any illegal mining activities there are a threat to the safety of the community.
The risks posed can also increase with time as large abandoned tailings facilities, rock dumps, shafts and underground workings gradually deteriorate and where no consideration is given to long-term maintenance and aftercare of the closed mines.
Information gathered indicates that when the Chinese galamsey contractor first sent one of the young Ghanaians into the disused mining shaft the unbearable heat encountered caused the young Ghanaian to collapse.
According the source, it took some time for the young man to be resuscitated, highlighting the safety implications of accessing the old shaft.
Information indicates that youth groups in the Brahabebome community in Tarkwa, are eagerly following the Chinese galamsey contractor to mine at a sealed-off and disused mine shaft.
Sealed-off in 1966 and capped in 1993
The Mantraim shaft was closed and sealed off in 1966 and was capped in 1993 after a transition from underground mining to open pit mining.
The dangers of mining at this old shaft, which has been disused for six decades, are obvious.
Inaction of local authorities
What was also disturbing was the inaction of the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), traditional authorities or the chiefs in the area, raising questions of whether activities of the Chinese galamsey contractor have not caught their attention.
The Chinese galamsey contractor had been seen manufacturing pipes and structures for them to use to mine in the area which sits on the concession of a mining company and is within their blasting zone.
The role of Brahabebome youth group
According to information, the Brahabebome youth group had broken the capping to gain access to the old shaft.
As has been happening in other areas, the illegal mining activity is being fuelled by Chinese galamsey contractors who have an interest in making money and who build structures for illegal small-scale miners.
Several solutions, including military raids on illegal Chinese miners, have not yielded the expected results.
The growing involvement of Chinese illegal mining poses social and environmental challenges to Ghana.
The Ghana-China relationship has in recent years had severe tensions resulting from the practice of illegal gold mining by some Chinese citizens.
Ghana faces many difficulties in maintaining good relations with China while dealing with the delicate domestic issue of illegal mining.
Conveniently deporting culprits without trial is not only a mockery of Ghana’s legal system and an act of condoning impunity but also a betrayal on the part of the government whose aim should be to protect the country’s resources and the interests of its people
The conviction is that prosecution of foreign nationals will not only deter foreigners from mining illegally, but also send a clear message of the government’s commitment to fighting against the practice and its associated impact on the environment and human lives.
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