ACCRA (AFP) – Six people were killed and three others injured when a mine collapsed in Ghana’s gold-rich Ashanti region, a local official said on Tuesday.
“They got a little bit deep and the whole (thing) caved in,” said Francis Dodovi, spokesman for the Ashanti region minister, Samuel Sarpong.
Dodovi added that the six who died were digging illegally on land belonging to a mining company in the town of Kyekyewere when the accident happened late on Monday.
The accident is the second to occur in Kyekyewere in just over a year. In April last year, 17 people who were trespassing on another mine’s land were crushed when their illegally dug shaft collapsed.
Long known for its rich ore deposits, Ghana’s central gold mining areas have recently seen an upsurge in illegal mining, driven by relatively high prices for gold.
Many of the miners trespass and dig open-air pits by hand or with excavators in a form of small-scale mining called “galamsey”.
While small-scale mining is illegal for foreigners, thousands of Chinese and other nationalities have also flocked to Ghana’s gold belt in recent years to mine.
Last year, Ghana cracked down on foreign miners, deporting 4,700 people in 2013, most of them Chinese nationals.
Ghana is Africa’s second-largest producer of gold and also a major producer of oil, which it began producing in 2010.