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The Chinese regime is Africa's largest trade partner and miners in countries such as Ghana increasingly rely on Chinese equipment and capital. But there are concerns that Chinese entrepreneurs are involved in illegal mining activities beyond the view of Ghana's regulatory regime, and locals say their share of the profits is shrinking.
Foreign gold seekers are nothing new in Ghana, but a new wave of prospectors are now making their presence felt, this time from China.
Ghana's laws say foreign companies are only allowed to work on large, open-pit operations. But campaigners say Chinese entrepreneurs are also illegally controlling small-scale operations behind the scenes, typically through a local intermediary.
Ghana is Africa's second largest gold exporter. More than 100,000 Ghanaians work in these small, dark mine shafts. Together they produce about 20 percent of the country's gold.
The Chinese regime is Africa's largest trade partner with two-way volume reaching $100-billion U.S. dollars in 2010.
Some welcome the Chinese because they bring necessary capital and equipment.
But some workers in Ghana's pits accuse Chinese entrepreneurs of increasing their share of local profits.
[Joseph Ben, Former Illegal Miner]:
"The Chinese people bring their equipment which makes the work easy for you and they know the work too, but when you are sick they don't pay your hospital bills you have to use your own money."
Mr. Ben says he used to work in a Chinese run mine where he was paid 80 Ghana cedi, or about $50 U.S. dollars, per month. Now he's paid twice as much in a mine owned by Ghanaians.
Last month the police arrested 25 Chinese miners said to be working illegally around the village of Wasa.
The association of communities affected by mining says Chinese companies have built networks of local people, including miners, local chiefs and security agents, to give them cover for illegal mining.