Ghana mine collapses, 14 trapped underground

At least 14 illegal miners are trapped underground in a mine in Ghana since Sunday, after an 80-metre deep pit caved due to heavy rains over the weekend.

A total of 19 men are believed to have been working at the pit when the accident happened, but only five have been rescued so far, Prime News Ghana reports.

Illegal gold mining is a ramping issue at Africa’s second largest gold producer. Last year, it caused the state to lose $2.3bn in revenue.

Illegal gold mining is a ramping issue at Africa’s second largest gold producer, and it has fuelled violence and pollution. In May, Ghana’s government suspended licences for small-scale operations, mostly run by Chinese businessmen, in an attempt to crackdown on the illicit activity.

The measure has exacerbated long-dragged resentment from locals towards Chinese nationals, who they blame for the devastating consequences of the illicit activity.

Last year, illegal mining caused the state to lose $2.3 billion in revenue, data from Ghana’s Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources shows. In comparison, Ghana’s legal gold exports brought $3.2 billion last year to the government coffers.

Facing mounting tensions, violence, and pollution, Ghana has stepped up the arrest and deportation of those illegal foreign miners in recent years. In June and July 2013 alone more than 4,500 illegal Chinese gold miners were deported. More recently, in August 2016, the government expelled about 30 illegal miners, the majority of them Chinese.

Ghana relies on China for billions of dollars in loans and commerce, as the country is its biggest trading partner. The crackdown on illegal foreign miners, experts agree, threatens to make the situation increasingly difficult for Ghana, particularly as the illicit extraction of gold has become an economic lifeline in the country’s rural areas.