Chinese gold diggers in Ghana released

CNC report from Ghana
Added On June 15, 2013

Beijing says all Chinese nationals arrested in a crackdown on illegal gold mining in Ghana have now been released.

The Foreign Ministry made the announcement on Thursday.

China's Foreign Ministry announced all 169 Chinese miners arrested in Ghana's crackdown on illegal mining, have now been released, after consultations between officials of the two countries.

It also said the Chinese government places a high value on issues relating to its nationals digging gold in the west African country.

The Chinese officials called for civilized law enforcement and a halt on the arrests of its nationals.

They urged Ghanaian authorities to protect Chinese nationals from attacks and looting, and provide security for those who want to return to China.

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) HUA CHUNYING, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman:
"We will strive to safeguard security and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese gold diggers in Ghana, and press ahead with the proper resolution of related problems."

On Thursday night, more than 1,000 Chinese people working as gold miners in Ghana returned to their homes in Shanglin County, in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

A number of Shanglin natives were among those arrested by Ghanian authorities, on charges of illegal mining.

The "gold rush" started in 2006.

Inspired by fast fortunes, around 12,000 Shanglin natives have engaged in gold mining in Ghana to date.

Some chose to return due to chaotic environment and government's crackdown.

On Wednesday, Ghanaian Vice President, Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur denied Chinese nationals were targets in his government's anti-illegal mining operations.

He appealed to Ghanaians and the international community not to interpret the crackdown as targeting nationals of any particular country.

The Vice President said it was a positive step, because "small-scale, artisanal mining by law was reserved for Ghanaians only".

A Director at the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Sulemanu Koney, believes that since illegal-mining is an illegality, there is very little anyone can complain about if government cracks down on it.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) SOLEMANU KONEY, Director, Ghana Chamber of Mines:
"The government is taking acting against illegality in the mining industry. As far as I know, government statement has to do with uprooting illegal mining in the system and not some nationals."

Ghana's officials pledged to maintain close contact and cooperation with China and deal with the illegal mining properly.

But it also says it will re-negotiate mining contracts to re-align them with the Africa Mining Vision, and the Mineral Development Policy of the sub-regional grouping Economic Community of West African States...