Thu, 28 Sep 2023

Canberra [Australia], September 1 (ANI): A top Australian diplomat is all set to fly to Ghana, West Africa to campaign against a Chinese state-linked mine company which is accused of digging under an Australian mine to steal a huge amount of gold.

Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, Tim Watts told African and Australian mining business leaders in Perth on Wednesday that Australia would continue to stand up for "democratic principles" and "the global rules-based order" when he travels to the West Africa Mining Security Conference in Accra in September, reported Sydney Morning Herald.

"Instability and insecurity threaten the international rules-based order, and our shared peace and prosperity," he said. "We want to help African governments deliver responsible, accountable and effective mining governance."The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age revealed last week that Australian miner Cassius was preparing to launch a USD 395 million actions against the Ghanaian government in the London Court of International Arbitration, alleging it had allowed Chinese miner Shaanxi to steal millions of dollars worth of gold from its mining concession.

Dozens of local men are alleged to have died in mines run by a Chinese mining company in West Africa, which is accused of digging under a neighbouring concession to steal a huge amount of gold, media reports said.

According to a year-long investigation by the Sydney Morning Herald, Shaanxi Mining Company Ghana Ltd has also a bitter dispute with an Australian mining company that claims the state-linked Chinese firm seeking gold on an adjacent block dug long tunnels under their concession area to 'steal' gold valued at tens of millions of dollars.

Separated by 2.5 kilometres of rock, rubble and poverty above ground, the mines stand opposite each other. One is an Australian exploration mine run by Cassius Mining Limited. The other is a Chinese state-linked mine run by the Shaanxi Mining Company.

Both came here to make their fortune by tapping into the rich veins of gold that run through this ancient terrain but competition soon turned to suspicion and hostility. Now, they are involved in a bitter dispute over claims of trespass, theft and the deaths of more than a dozen miners.

Cassius suspected Shaanxi's shafts ran as deep as 500 metres underground and had horizontal tunnels running into the Australian concession. A subterranean laser probe confirmed that Shaanxi's tunnels were far more extensive than they had publicly revealed.The Chinese miners had laid explosives at the entrance to their shafts. Shaanxi staff tried to forcibly block Cassius from entering sensitive areas. Fuelled by suspicion and language barriers, scuffles broke out between the Chinese and Australian camps.

Australian mining manager Andrew Head is still traumatised by the deaths of dozens of miners inside a Chinese state-linked mine in Africa, as per the media portal."One day as we were going into one area, the Chinese started running off, they had laid explosives nearby to show us we weren't supposed to be in the mine," says one member of Head's team who asked not to be identified because of fears for their safety."It was very, very harrowing."A report commissioned by Cassius and seen by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age found there was "a strong probability" that Shaanxi was trespassing on five levels of the Cassius concession, right along its eastern and northern borders.

"Clear evidence of trespass has been gathered which indicates that Shaanxi are mining and exploring into Cassius's licence, to the north and east," the report found. "Given the known geology and assumed grades of veins in the area, the amount of gold removed is probably significant." (ANI)

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