Ghana frees all 169 gold miners rounded up in crackdown

All 169 held for illegal operations have now been released and will return in batches

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 4:54am

Ghana has released all 169 gold miners detained by its immigration authorities in a crackdown on illegal mining, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in Beijing.

They would return in several batches with assistance from the Chinese embassy in Ghana and a team sent by the Guangxi and Fujian governments, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

The central government attached "great importance to Chinese citizens mining gold in Ghana", and had sent a joint investigation team comprising officials from the ministries of foreign affairs, commerce and public security to the West African country to protect their safety and lawful rights, Hua said.

The team had asked the Ghanaian government to stop detaining Chinese and to prevent locals from robbing Chinese workers. It also urged Ghana to help Chinese who volunteered to return home and to protect workers' equipment, Hua added.

It had talked to representatives of Chinese miners in Ghana and had given "advice on how to face the current situation".

On May 14, Ghanaian President John Mahama ordered a task force to crack down on illegal gold and diamond mining. As of Thursday last week, 169 Chinese had been arrested on suspicion of illegal gold mining.

Most of the illegal gold prospectors in the resource-rich country are Chinese, and the majority come from Shanglin county in Nanning, Guangxi. The county government said at least 12,000 residents had left to mine for gold in Ghana since 2006.

Su Zhenyu , secretary general of the Chinese Mining Association in Ghana, was quoted by China National Radio last weekend as saying workers from Guangxi mined 50 tonnes of gold in Ghana every year.