At least 17 killed in Ghana gold mine collapse

At least 17 miners have been killed when a disused gold mine collapsed in Ghana's central bullion-producing region, about 300km north of the capital Accra, local authorities told AP Tuesday.

No one else is believed to remain trapped inside the area, but officials said efforts would resume later today as it was unclear how many people had been at the mine at the time of the accident.

The West African nation of about 25 million people is one of the world's top gold exporters. In fact, the country used to be known as the Gold Coast.

But today’s mining in Ghana is mostly done illegally, by both undocumented immigrants and children, as an Al Jazeera investigation shows. Some operators pay these workers less than $6 a day and offer "primitive" working settings.

A recent study showed that over 300 illegal miners have died in Ghana in the last two years as a direct consequence of poor safety conditions. The activity has become a major problem over the past few months, with an estimated 10,000 immigrants —most of them Chinese— engaged in such activities and it has risen concerns about the environmental impact of that kind of mining.

Late last month over 120 Chinese nationals were arrested and are now facing deportation for possessing fake entry permits and engaging in illegal extraction of gold.

Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) has since then launched an internal inquiry into allegations that some of its officers have received bribes in exchange for work permits.

(Image: Aljazeera’s documentary screen grab)