Accra, Ghana – At 232 square kilometers, the Atewa Forest Reserve in Ghana’s Eastern Region is home to rare flora and fauna including two butterfly species not found anywhere else in the world – Mylothris atewa and Anthene helpsi – and a rediscovered West African White-naped Managbey monkey classified as ‘endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The reserve is also the source of three major rivers that serve five million people including residents of Accra, the capital. Local residents and environmental campaigners fear the ecosystem would be irreversibly decimated if plans for a multi-billion dollar deal with the Chinese Development Bank to mine bauxite in the forest goes on.
Bauxite is the ore of aluminum – which is used to make a variety of things including airplanes, cars, cooking utensils and some types of cement.
The $10 billion deal, agreed back in June 2017, Ghana will give up about 5% of its bauxite to China. China would then pay Ghana with a variety of infrastructure projects including expanding the rail network, building new roads and bridges.
The government estimates Ghana’s total untapped bauxite reserves at $460 billion and is hoping to cash in on the rise in the price of alumina (refined bauxite).
In an address to the nation on Independence Day 2018 (Mar. 6), president Nana Akufo-Addo said bauxite revenue was going to help fund his government’s much-trumpeted vision of “A Ghana Beyond Aid”. As many African countries struggle with Chinese debt, Beijing has been striking similar direct deals where precious minerals are exchanged for loans as is in the case of Angola (cash for oil) and in another deal with Guinea, to barter bauxite for infrastructure projects worth $20 billion.
For the rest of this article: https://qz.com/1296808/a-10-billion-china-deal-to-mine-bauxite-in-ghana-is-facing-fierce-environmental-push-back/