Posts Tagged With: mining

Building Bridges or Killing Elephants?

China’s ever-increasing presence in African countries can’t be ignored. Since the 90’s, China has been staking its claim in oil, infrastructure and mining projects across the dark continent. What does their business mean to Africans? Is this an economic investment or a global takeover? Either way, what can’t be denied is the environmental sabotage in their wake. (See previous post: Africa’s Asian Invasion)

They have built  controversial damns across the continent (Gabon, Ghana, Zambia, Ethiopia, and Sudan) which have had adverse environmental impact. For example, in Ghana  the  Bui Dam Project  is flooding nearly a quarter of the Bui National Park, destroying habitat for rare hippos, forcibly resettling 2,600 people and affecting thousands more.

bui dam

Bui Dam

They are also responsible  for long-term river and farmland pollution from mining projects in South Africa and Ghana.  One recent project, the China-Africa Sunlight Energy has received permission to mine coal in  Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.  This is a delicate and crucial wildlife area that mining will likely damage, as well as exposing the wild animals to poaching.

But perhaps the most obvious infraction on mother nature is in the killing of the elephants to smuggle their ivory.

Chinese construction camps in Africa have long been suspected of smuggling ivory. A CNN report reveals that numerous camps in the Republic of Congo and neighbouring countries are suspected of facilitating the large-scale ivory trade.


Rangers hunting the hunters in the Congo.

Although workers at the camps have at times been caught red-handed, prosecution does not come easy. Actual investigation of the camps is even more difficult, as in once incident  a regional prosecutor blocked an anti-poaching unit from searching a camp – even though ivory pieces were found there.

According to  CNN, when asked about the incident, the prosecutor said the search was halted because the translator for the Chinese was away and they couldn’t conduct a search without explaining to the Chinese why it was happening.

Many of these camps are set up near small villages, which have their own track record of poaching involvement.  Poor villagers, ivory-hungry workers-a potent combination; but add in law enforcement turning a blind eye, it’s a complete disaster.


Ranger examining elephant trunk after poaching in the Congo.

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Africa’s Asian Invasion

Who has a population density 3x the world average?

Who has 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world?

Who is #1 in the world’s CO2 emissions?

Who just reached a record high hazardous level of air pollution levels?

Who has a country filled with underemployment, water shortages, water pollution , soil erosion, growing desertification, and ever increasing energy usage contributing to global warming?


With 20% of the world’s population, (91 people per square mile) to say China is in need of room to grow is an understatement. It appears they have found that room in Africa. Driven by the need to find oil, timber and other raw materials, China has pledged 100 billion to develop commercial projects in the most economically needy countries of Africa. The rapid expansion of the Chinese “territories” is alarming.

chinese rights in africa

There is a great deal of debate over how this is affecting Africa. The amount of jobs have increased; but what percentage of Africans are actually benefiting? Often China brings its own employees to the job sites, taking with them the resources and the profits. With Africa’s median age at less than 25 years old, there is a need for employment by the up and coming generation. In Angola for instance, Chinese street sellers are fast putting out of business thousands of locals and Malian sellers who have been there for generations; and Chinese oil companies employ fewer than 15 percent Angolan labor and usually at the end of the pay scale.

The mining and dam projects are leaving a mark on the continent as well. For example the current Ethiopian dam project is draining Kenya’s Lake Turkana. And the Chinese are looking to strip Africa of her timber, gold, uranium, and oil.  How could one expect Chinese mining companies in Africa to comply with environmental and safety laws if the mines they operate in China are considered the most dangerous in the world?

This in addition to the fact that China is already one of the biggest culprits in demand of rhino horn and elephant tusks, may well be the beginning of the end of Africa as we know it. Do we really want a country who can’t control their own current environmental devastation to take over another continent?

chinese africa

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at