在加纳淘金的中国矿工 Chinese miners flock to Ghana gold boom
Before the gold rush, few cars disturbed the dirt road cutting through the lush hills to this village in central Ghana. Then, two years ago, 10 Chinese men arrived with a Ghanaian business partner who said he had a mining licence.
Soon, bulldozers were turning vast patches of forest dotted with oil palms and cocoa trees into fields of mud.
By October last year, there were about 100 Chinese men and women living in makeshift camps around Mpatasie, according to the village chief Nana Agya Owusu. Some carried guns to protect their claims. Locals, who had hoped to benefit from the gold production but had seen few benefits, were becoming angry. So were the Ghanaian authorities, who had recently deported dozens of illegal Chinese miners.
“Six trucks carrying armed forces came and attacked the Chinese,” said Mr Owusu, describing the raid on October 11 in the Mpatasie area, two hours’ drive from the regional capital Kumasi. “They took many of them away.”
When a group of miners tried escape into the forest, a 16-year-old Chinese boy was killed by the security forces. His shooting prompted a rare public complaint from the Chinese embassy in Ghana, which is more used to trumpeting the two countries’ growing trade, worth more than $2.3bn in the first half of 2012 , a 72 per cent increase from the same period in 2011.
The killing highlighted the mounting social and environmental problems in the booming small-scale mining sector in Ghana, Africa’s second biggest gold producer.
For decades, tens of thousands of local miners called “galamseys” – derived from the English phrase “gather them and sell” – have scraped a living in shallow pits and tunnels, often illegally on land belonging to big mining companies, such as Newmont, Gold Fields and AngloGold Ashanti.