07/11/2020, 12.10
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Ghanaian environmentalists sue their government over China-backed mine

The proposed mine is in a protected national forest some 90 km from the capital. China is financing the US$ 2 billion, project building roads and bridges in exchange for access to bauxite. Environmental groups warn that rare species and water supply for millions of people are at risk. Increasingly, activists are turning to the courts to stop polluting activities in Africa.

Accra (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Ghanaian environmental activists are taking their government to court in order stop a China-backed project to mine for bauxite in a protected national forest.

Activists warn that the new mine would endanger the forest’s delicate ecosystem, harming the health and well-being of local communities.

In 2018, China pledged to build US$ 2 billion worth of roads and bridges in Ghana in exchange for access to the bauxite from a proposed mine in the Atewa Range Forest. Bauxite is used in making aluminum.

China's policy towards Africa, considered by many to be a form of neocolonialism, is based on buying raw materials in exchange for investments and loans for infrastructural projects (largely with Chinese labour and materials) in target countries.

According to the China Global Investment Tracker, China has invested US$ 211 billion in Africa over the past 15 years.

Johns Hopkins University’s China Africa Research Initiative estimates that China lent US$ 143 billion to 49 African states between 2000 and 2017.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo has promised that mining activities will be environmentally sustainable. Ghanaian authorities say that the project will create 35,000 new jobs.

Conversely, environmental groups note that the forest is home to very rare animal and plant species. It is also the source of three important rivers that supply water to millions of people, including the residents of the capital, Accra, which is only 90 km away.

According to Global Forest Watch, the rate of deforestation in Ghana rose by 60 per cent between 2017 and 2018, the highest in tropical countries.

In Africa, local groups are increasingly turning to the courts to block the polluting activities of mining companies. They demand that economic development be reconciled with forest protection.

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