The Awaso bauxite mine is emerging as a critical flashpoint in China-Africa environmental ties and highlights tensions common to many countries between the need for African countries to best exploit its natural resources and the use of Chinese financing for projects in and around the continent’s rapidly diminishing rain forests.
3 Reasons Why This is an Important Story:
- Last year, Ghana ceded 5% of its total bauxite resources to Chinese state-owned companies. In turn, China’s Sinohydro will finance $2 billion worth of infrastructure projects that include rails, roads and bridge networks.
- Deforestation has massively reduced the size of the forests around the mine and conservationists are concerned that the new roads being built to service the mine will only expedite the destruction of this ecosystem.
- Workers at the mine went on a rampage in June over low salaries and poor working conditions. They torched cars and the homes/offices of Chinese managers. Today, Chinese executives at the mine claim all of those grievances have been resolved.
Just as Kenyans activists were up against both Chinese state-back interests and their own government in their fight against the construction of a coal-fired power plant on Lamu island, Ghanian conservationists are battling similar forces in the struggle against the development of the Awaso bauxite mine. The Kenyan activists, led by deCOALonize, were successful in part because they brought significant international attention to the case, which so far, is not happening with Ghana bauxite mine case.
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