Workers at a bauxite mine in southwest Ghana staged violent protests earlier this week to call attention to poor working conditions and low pay and to demand changes for the better from Ghana Bauxite Company, the mine’s operator.
Ghanaian news media reported earlier this week that contract employees complained of “meager” pay, calling for a 10-percent increase to current wages.
Images from the scene depicted flaming tires blocking a roadway into the mine. Workers were also reported to have damaged a hut and destroyed an automobile owned by the firm. The unrest disrupted traffic in the nearby town of Awaso.
Though Ghana sits atop some of the richest know caches of high-quality bauxite ore on the planet, accessing and extracting it has proven difficult for decades. Chinese firms have made significant inroads in the country, while current president Nana Akufo-Addo continues to work toward delivering on campaign promises to establish a vibrant bauxite ore sector.
The Ghanaian government continues to seek investments from overseas players, but critics say the conditions experienced by local workers is insufficient at best, dangerous at worst. In addition, locals continue to call on the government to make good on promises to insure that they receive the benefit of the bauxite mined in their area while minimizing negative effects upon the local environment.
Also contentious is the US$2 billion deal the government made with Beijing earlier this year, which proponents say will yield tremendous improvements to the nation’s infrastructure, while critics say is a loan that may put the country’s future economic security at risk. The government continues to assure its citizens that the coming benefits to the country’s primitive infrastructure will outweigh any future financial concerns attendant to the bauxite deal.