38 Chinese nationals caught mining for gold illegally in the west African nation of Ghana have been arrested and deported.
The Washington Post reports that China's embassy to Ghana made the arrests public on its website on Sunday, stating that the Chinese nationals were arrested in the southern Ghanaian district of Obuasi.
40 Chinese nationals were arrested, with one found not guilty, one released on bail and the remaining 38 deported back to China due to lack of residential or work permits.
Illegal mining by Chinese nationals has become an increasing source of contention and resentment for local Ghanaians, with disputes often turning into armed clashes and leading political figures raising pointed concerns.
Frank Agyekum, spokesman for former Ghanaian president John Kufuor, recently complained about the illegal mining by Chinese miners by way of reference to a trip to Shanghai:
It looks like Ghana has become Africa's latest El Dorado. On my latest flight from Shanghai, there were many Chinese…coming to Ghana. When l asked many of them what they were coming to do, their response was they were going to Obuasi – and we all know what that means.
Dispute over illegal mining by Chinese nationals has already resulted in violent conflicts in recent months. The Ghanaian government is accused of turning a blind eye to the situation due to the largesse it has received from Chinese banks, while local chiefs are also accused of being complicit in the illegal mining by providing protection to the miners.