Ghana’s government has been forced to defend a $10billion memorandum of understanding it has signed with the Chinese government to exploit its bauxite deposits .
Mineral rich Ghana has been fighting a battle against illegal mining practices that has led to the destruction of several of the country’s waterbodies and farm lands,leading to fears that the country could struggle to find clean drinking water by 2020 if action is not taken.
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A vigorous anti-illegal mining campaign led by various media institutions in the country has led to the closure of several mines and the arrests of several alleged illegal miners,most of whom are Chinese.
Media reports list the most powerful of these miners as a Chinese national named Asia Huang,who is currently facing charges and deportation.
The involvement of Chinese nationals in these acts is what has led to the worry of several Ghanaian environmentalists and conservationists who see the MOU as another opportunity for China,which does not have the best record for environmental protection,to wreak more havoc on an already fragile ecosystem.
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The President,Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s senior minister, Yaw Osarfo Marfo in defending the new deal which is crucial to the fragile state of the government’s coffers says the mining can be done with no harm to the environment.
“There are two major deposits of bauxite in Ghana, the bigger one is the Nyinahin deposit, and not the Atiwa one.
“Therefore, what we are talking about can be done without touching the Atiwa [Forest]” he told the BBC.
He continued: “You can exploit the bauxite in Atiwa from the north-eastern side without affecting the River Birim… The bauxite deposit covers a very extensive area. The river takes its sources from a particular side and you can do it without affecting the river source.”
China’s Development Bank is pledging to construct railways and factories to convert the bauxite into aluminium.