Business News of Sunday, 18 November 2012

Source: thebftonline

Illegal Chinese miners endangering US$4m Obuasi Airport

More than 500 Chinese illegal miners are seriously working about a quarter of a kilometre away from the US$4million-investment Anglogold Ashanti (AGA) Obuasi Airport, which was inaugurated last month.

The Chinese illegal miners are currently located at Obuasi and Amansie central and are believed to be mining on AngloGold Ashanti property, without proper documentation, a source at AGA hinted B&FT.

“They are seriously working about a quarter of a kilometre away from our newly-built US$4million Obuasi Airport, which was inaugurated recently by the Minister of Transport, Alhaji Collins Dauda. This poses a serious danger and even a threat to the life-span of the airport’s runway.

“They are mining with brand-new excavators and other pieces of equipment, which were certainly imported from China and cleared through our ports,” he said angrily.

Investigations have revealed that these Chinese illegal miners apply the use of deadly mercury and this has destroyed farmlands and water-bodies meant to be a source of drinking water to surrounding communities.

A source at Anglogold Ashanti in an interview with B&FT said: “The illegal Chinese gold diggers are mining on the company’s concession from Kowiaso, Yawso, Akatakyieso, Fiakoma, Kokoteeten, Womase, Apitiso, Apetikoko, Akutuase and Ankona in the Sanso area of the Amansie district and Obuasi municipality.

“What is baffling the communities and business people in the area is that all these illegal activities are going on under the eyes of the district administration of Obuasi Municipal Authority and Amansie districts, the police and other security agencies,” a local landowner and businessman revealed.

The Obuasi area -- which hosts the country’s biggest underground mine and resources -- is not the only place the Chinese are working and bleeding Ghanaians with impunity.

“The situation is no different in other gold mining communities such as Anhwiankwanta, Manso Mim, Bekwai areas, Lower and Upper Denkyira and the Tarkwa Nsuem areas.

“They are destroying our lands and taking our fortunes away,” a 60 year-old farmer, Kofi Badu, whose two acre orange farm was forcibly taken away from him at Huni Valley in Western Region said, adding that “our politicians and chiefs have failed us.

“Our security capos must watch out before it becomes too late,” he said.

Illegal miners pay no compensation to these poor communities; neither do they pay taxes or royalties to the government as they export their gold freely, yet local illegal miners eking a living with spades and hammers are always hunted down with all the force the police can muster.

Their destruction of the environment is crystal-clear, as they leave their mined-out pits unfilled.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Minerals Commission, both governmental agencies responsible for the country’s environmental issues and coordination of the industry, seem to have lost their mettle to do their work -- in the same way as the Immigration Service has literally opened the country’s borders for all kinds of Chinese to invade the mining communities.

The police seem to have lost the battle already, as allegations fly that they are eating from the palms of the Chinese.