Thwarting the impenitent galamseyers: Should we take a cue from Americans?

Birim River Destroyed By Galamsey River destroyed by galamsey

Fri, 10 Mar 2017 Source: Badu, K

Badu, K

Somehow, the Ghana Minerals Commission (the sector regulator) is struggling to curb the activities of the illegal Chinese and their Ghanaian minions in the small-scale mining sector.

There is no denying the fact that the small-scale mining may have its benefits if it is properly regulated. For, if anything at all, it may generate employment in Ghana, but the way it is being carried out at the moment, it does not look promising, it is simply ill-favoured.

Indeed, the sector can bring huge economic returns. Take, for example, in 2011, 30 percent of the country’s 3.6 million ounces of gold production came from small-scale mines, up from less than 25 percent in 2010, according to Ghana Chamber of Mines.

Nevertheless, the small-scale mining sector is being messed up. Take, for instance, although by law, only Ghanaians are allowed to obtain mining licenses for small-scale operations, thousands of Chinese and other immigrants are working in the small scale mining sector in Ghana.

Apparently, the foreign infiltrators have illimitable liberty to undertake illegal mining. Take, for instance, even though the small scale mining laws prohibit the use of large explosives, the Chinese illegal miners are using unstructured methods and at the same time supplying large explosive, rock crushers and other machines to local illegal miners.

Sadly, though, the activities of the illegal miners have culminated in environmental degradation. The worrying aspect, though, is our water bodies have been dangerously polluted with mercury and cyanide.

Disappointingly, however, the illegal Chinese miners are being encouraged and assisted by some greedy and unpatriotic Ghanaians.

“The Chinese never give up. They will never give up their pursuits. Whatever they pursue, they become experts and innovators in that field. They are never bogged down by failure. For them, failure simply means another shot to be successful,” said a social commentator.

“They wield guns and would fire at anyone who dares to confront them to stop mining”.

Per the illegal miners stubbornness, I shudder to think it would take a massive leadership in order to curb the illegal mining activities in our countryside.

I will thus venture to suggest that we may have to take a cue from the United States of America, who put in place punitive measures in their attempt to halt the Chinese illegal miners invasion in the19th and 20th centuries.

In the mid 1800’s, the Americans were confronted with similar predicament -the invasion of the illegal Chinese miners.

In their desperate attempt to halt the seemingly pernicious onslaughts by the incompliant illegal Chinese miners, the American authorities were forced to promulgate draconian immigration laws which targeted the illegal Chinese miners.

“Large-scale Chinese immigration began in the mid 1800's due to the California Gold Rush.

“Despite the flood of Chinese immigrants during that time, their population began to fall drastically, because of laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and the highly imbalanced male to female ratio.

“Miners in the area often used violence to drive the Chinese out of various mines. While impatient gold-seekers would abandon prospective rivers, the Chinese would remain, painstakingly panning through the dust to find bits of gold. The Chinese have an eye for gold.”

“As time passed the resentment against the Chinese immigrants in America increased, and eventually, the laws such as Naturalization Act of 1870 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 came into force to restrict immigration of Chinese immigrants into the United States of America.

“The Naturalization Act of 1870 restricted immigration into America to only "white persons and persons of African descent," meaning that all Chinese were placed in a different category, a category that placed them as ineligible for citizenship from that time till 1943.”

Of course, the stance taken by the American’s to circumscribe the influx of the illegal Chinese miners was extremely punitive. Nevertheless, to them the apparent harsh decision helped in their efforts to curb the illegal Chinese miners invasion.

In any case, we may not be able to go the way of the Americans. However, we can still manage to thwart the activities of the Chinese illegal miners.

We can achieve this through a collaborative effort, involving the central government; the Ghana Embassy in China; Ghana Immigration Service; the Police Service; Ghana Minerals Commission; the National House of Chiefs and all discerning Ghanaians.

Let us come together to uphold and defend the good name of Ghana!

K. Badu, UK.

Columnist: Badu, K
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