The outbreak of artisanal and small-scale gold mining (galamsey) operations in Ghana: Institutions, politics, winners and losers
This paper focuses on the outbreak of illegal mining (galamsey) operations in Ghana in recent times claiming that the outbreak is accompanied by massive environmental destruction including pollution of water bodies, degradation of farmlands and forest landscapes. Despite the efforts of governmental, non-governmental and civil society organisations to streamline the artisanal and small-scale (ASM) sector since 2017, illegal mining activities remain a livelihood strategy for several Ghanaians. Institutions, politics and local manoeuvrings have rejuvenated and shaped by illegal mining activities. This study employs the narrative review approach to theorize and analyse the pertinent issues influencing the outbreak of ASM activities in Ghana. We draw on the extant theoretical and empirical perspectives to argue that illegal mining activities persist in Ghana today because every stakeholder wants to be a winner–the state institutions are weakened by politics for political triumphs. The local authorities collaborate and embrace illegal mining activities for economic gains while the local communities perceived illegal mining as a last resort to circumventing dispossession by state institutions and foreign mining conglomerates of their share of the mineral wealth. We posited that until the local communities’ share of mineral wealth is duly served them including desirable compensation regimes, illegal mining activities would continue to flourish in Ghana. It is therefore, suggested that mineral resource decisions in the country must identify and incorporate the needs of the local communities. Further research into the needs of local communities, expectations and challenges regarding mineral resources extraction within their range is pertinent.
Abdulai, A. and Hickey, S. 2014. Rethinking the politics of development in Africa? allocation in Ghana ESID Working Paper, No. 38. Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester.
Abdulai, A.-G. 2017. Competitive clientelism and the political economy of mining in Ghana. ESID Working Paper No. 78. Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester. http://www.effective-states.org/wp-content/uploads/working_papers/finalpdfs/esid_wp_78_abdulai.pdf.
Adu-baffour, F., Daum, T. and Birner, R. 2021. Governance challenges of small-scale gold mining in Ghana: insights from a process net-map study. Land Use Policy 102(3-4):1-16, doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2020.105271.
Akabzaa, T. and Darimani, A. 2001. Impact of mining sector investment in Ghana: A study of the Tarkwa Mining Region. Third World Network, Accra, Ghana.
Amponsah-Tawiah, K. and Dartey-Baah, K. 2011. The mining industry in Ghana: A blessing or a curse. International Journal of Business and Social Science 2(12) 62-70.
Andrews, N. 2018. Land versus livelihoods: Community perspectives on dispossession and marginalization in Ghana's mining sector. Resources Policy 58:240-249, doi:10.1016/j.resourpol.2018.05.011.
Antwi-Boateng, O.and Akudugu, M.A. 2020. Golden migrants: The rise and impact of illegal Chinese small-scale mining in Ghana. Politics and Policy 48(1):135-167, doi:10.1111/polp.12342.
Arrighi, G., Aschoff, N. and Scully, B. 2010. Accumulation by dispossession and its limits: The Southern Africa paradigm revisited. Studies in Comparative International Development 45:410-438, doi:10.1007/s12116-010-9075-7.
Aryee, B.N.A., Ntibery, B.K. and Atorkui, E. 2003. Trends in the small-scale mining of precious minerals in Ghana: A perspective on its environmental impact. Journal of Cleaner Production 11(2):131-140, doi:10.1016/S0959-6526(02)00043-4.
Awumbila, M. and Tsikata, D. 2004. Migration dynamics and small scale gold mining in northeastern Ghana: implications for sustainable rural livelihoods. Legon: University of Ghana. https://uaps2007.princeton.edu/papers/70506.
Ayee, J., Søreide, T., Shukla, G. P. and Minh Le, T. 2011. Political economy of the mining sector in Ghana. Policy Research Working Paper 5730. The World Bank Africa Region, Public Sector Reform and Capacity Building Unit. https://www.cmi.no/publications/file/4091-political-economy-of-the-mining-sector-inghana.pdf, doi:10.1596/1813-9450-5730.
Ayitey, J.Z., Kidido, J. K. and Tudzi, E. P. 2010. Compensation for land use deprivation in mining communties, the law and practice: case study of Newmont Gold Ghana Limited. The Ghana Surveyor 32-40.
Baddianaah, I., Tuu, G.N. and Baatuuwie, B.N. 2021. Livelihood implications of artisanal gold mining in farming communities: insight from the Wa East District, Ghana. Ghana Journal of Geography 13(3):85-119, doi:10.4314/gjg.v13i3.5.
Bansah, K.J., Dumakor-Dupey, N.K, Kansake, B.A., Assan, E. and Bekui, P. 2018. Socioeconomic and environmental assessment of informal artisanal and small-scale mining in Ghana. Journal of Cleaner Production 202:465-475, doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.08.150.
Bazillier, R. and Girard, V. 2019. The gold digger and the machine. Evidence on the distributive effect of the artisanal and industrial gold rushes in Burkina Faso. Journal of Development Economics 143:1-17, doi:10.1016/j.jdeveco.2019.102411.
Bebbington, A.J., Abdulai, A.-G., Bebbington, D.H., Hinfelaar, M. and Sanborn, C.A. 2018. Governing extractive industries. Oxford University Press, Oxford, doi:10.1093/oso/9780198820932.001.0001.
Bhattacharya, R. and Seda-Irizarry, I.J. 2014. Primitive accumulation. Working Paper No. 03. John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York.
Boadi, S., Nsor, C A., Antobre, O.O. and Acquah, E. 2016. An analysis of illegal mining on the Offin shelterbelt forest reserve, Ghana: Implications on community livelihood. Journal of Sustainable Mining 15(3):115-119, doi:10.1016/j.jsm.2016.12.001.
Boafo, J., Paalo, S.A. and Dotsey, S. 2019. Illicit Chinese small-scale mining in Ghana: Beyond institutional weakness? Sustainability 11(21):1-18, doi:10.3390/su11215943.
Botchwey, G. and Crawford, G. 2018. Resource politics and the impact of Chinese involvement in small-scale mining in Ghana. Africa 88(4):867-870, doi:10.1017/S0001972018000517.
Bush, R., Bujra, J. and Littlejohn, G. 2011. The accumulation of dispossession. Review of African Political Economy 38(128):187-192, doi:10.1080/03056244.2011.582752.
Cáceres, D.M. 2015. Accumulation by dispossession and socio-environmental conflicts caused by the expansion of agribusiness in Argentina. Journal of Agrarian Change 15(1):116-147, doi:10.1111/joac.12057.
Clarke, S. 1990. The Marxist theory of overaccumulation and crisis. in Science and Society. London: Guilford Press. pp. 442-467.
Crawford, G. and Botchwey, G. 2017a. Conflict, collusion and corruption in small-scale gold mining: Chinese miners and the state in Ghana. Commonwealth and Comparative Politics 55(4):444-470, doi:10.1080/14662043.2017.1283479.
Crawford, G. and Botchwey, G. 2017b. Foreign involvement in small-scale gold mining in Ghana and its impact on resource fairness. In: Pichler, M., Staritz, C., Kublbock, K., Plank, C., Raza, W., Peyre, F.R. (eds.), Fairness and Justice in Natural Resource Politics. Routledge, London, pp. 181-199.
Crawford, G., Agyeyomah, C., Botchwey, G. and Mba, A. 2016. The impact of Chinese involvement in small-scale gold mining in Ghana. International Growth Centre (IGC). London (UK). Online at: https://www.theigc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Crawford-et-al-2016-Policy-brief.pdf.
Darimani, A., Akabzaa, T.M. and Attuquayefio, D.K. 2013. Effective environmental governance and outcomes for gold mining in Obuasi and Birim North Districts of Ghana. Mineral Economics 26(1-2):47-60, doi:10.1007/s13563-013-0036-2.
Debrah, A.A., Watson, I. and Quansah, D.P.O. 2014. Comparison between artisanal and small- scale mining in Ghana and South Africa: Lessons learnt and ways forward. The Journal of The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy 114:913-921.
Di John, J. and Putzel, J. 2009. Political settlements: Issues paper. Governance and Social Development Resource Centre: University of Birmingham, UK.
Eduful, M., Alsharif, K., Eduful, A., Acheampong, M., Eduful, J. and Mazumder, L. 2020. The illegal artisanal and small-scale mining (galamsey) ‘menace’ in Ghana: Is military-style approach the answer? Resources Policy 68:1-14, doi:10.1016/j.resourpol.2020.101732.
Fenton, R.P. 2019. Accumulation by dispossession: From Marx to Harvey: the recurring problem of “primitive accumulation.” In The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Urban and Regional Studies (pp. 1–4). John Wiley and Sons Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118568446.eurs0001.
Fold, N., Bosse-Jønsson, J. and Yankson, P.W.K. 2013. Buying into formalization? State institutions and interlocked markets in african small-scale gold mining. Futures 62:128-139, doi:10.1016/j.futures.2013.09.002.
Frederiksen, T. 2019. Political settlements, the mining industry and corporate social responsibility in developing countries. Extractive Industries and Society 6(1):162-170, doi:10.1016/j.exis.2018.07.007.
Guenther, M. 2018. Local effects of artisanal mining: Empirical evidence from Ghana. In: Presentation at the International Conference ’Environmental Economics: A Focus on Natural Resources’, Orleans.
Harvey, D. 2003. The New Imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, doi: 10.1093/oso/9780199264315.001.0001.
Harvey, D. 2004. The ‘new’ imperialism: accumulation by dispossession. Socialist Register 40:63-87.
Hausermann, H. and Ferring, D. 2018. Unpacking land grabs: subjects, performances and the state in Ghana’s ‘small-scale’ gold mining sector. Development and Change 49(4):1-24, doi:10.1111/dech.12402.
Hausermann, H., Adomako, J. and Robles, M. 2020. Fried eggs and all- women gangs: the geopolitics of Chinese gold mining in Ghana, bodily vulnerability, and resistance. Human Geography 13(1):1-14, doi:10.1177/1942778620910900.
Hilson G. and Potter C. 2003. Why is illegal gold mining in so ubiquitous throughout rural Ghana? African Development Review 15(2):237-270, doi:10.1111/j.1467-8268.2003.00073.x.
Hilson, G. 2001. A contextual review of the Ghanaian small-scale mining industry. IIED, London.
Hilson, G. 2017. Shootings and burning excavators: some rapid reflections on the Government of Ghana’s handling of the Galamsey mining “menace. Resource Policy 54:109-116, doi:10.1016/j.resourpol.2017.09.009.
Hilson, G. and Maconachie, R. 2020. Entrepreneurship and innovation in Africa’s artisanal and small-scale mining sector: Developments and trajectories. Journal of Rural Studies 78:149-162, doi:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2020.06.004.
Hilson, G. and Maconachie, R. 2020. Land use policy for the environment: An assessment of recent military intervention in informal gold mining communities in Ghana. Land Use Policy 96:1-11, doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2020.104706.
Hilson, G. and Osei, L. 2014. Tackling youth unemployment in sub-Saharan Africa. Is there a role for artisanal and small-scale mining? Futures 62:83-94, doi:10.1016/j.futures.2014.05.004.
Hilson, G. and Potter, C. 2005. Structural adjustment and subsistence industry: Artisanal gold mining in Ghana. Development and Change 36(1):103-131, doi:10.1111/j.0012-155X.2005.00404.x.
Hilson, G. and Yakovleva, N. 2007. Strained relations: A critical analysis of the mining conflict in Prestea, Ghana. Political Geography 26(1):98-119, doi:10.1016/j.polgeo.2006.09.001.
Hilson, G., Hilson, A. and Adu-Darko, E. 2014. Chinese participation in Ghana’s informal gold mining economy: Drivers, implications and clarifications. Journal of Rural Studies 34:292-303, doi:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2014.03.001.
Hilson, G., Hilson, A., Maconachie, R., Mcquilken, J. and Goumandakoye, H. 2017. Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) in sub-Saharan Africa: Re-conceptualizing formalization and ‘illegal’ activity. Geoforum 83:80–90, doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2017.05.004.
Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), 2017. The State of Ghanaian Economy in 2016. College of Humanities, University of Ghana, Legon.
Kidido, J.K., Ayitey, J.Z., Kuusaana, E.D. and Gavu, E.K. 2015. Who is the rightful recipient of mining compensation for land use deprivation in Ghana ? Resources Policy 43:19-27, doi:10.1016/j.resourpol.2014.10.004.
Kinuthia, W. 2013. Accumulation by dispossession by the global extractive industry: The Case of Canada. University of Ottawa, doi:10.20381/RUOR-3366.
Kinyondo, A. and Huggins, C. 2019. Resource nationalism in Tanzania: Implications for artisanal and small-scale mining. The Extractive Industries and Society 6:181-189, doi:10.1016/j.exis.2018.08.005.
Laws, E. and Leftwich, A. 2014. Political settlements. Concept Brief 1. Developmental Leadership Program: University of York.
Laws, E. 2012. Political settlements, elite pacts, and governments of national unity. Background Paper 10. Birmingham: DLP.
Luning, S. and Pijpers, R.J. 2017. Governing access to gold in Ghana: In-depth geopolitics on mining concessions.Africa 87(4):758-779, doi:10.1017/S0001972017000353.
Mabe, F.N., Owusu-sekyere, E. and Theophilus, O. 2021. Livelihood coping strategies among displaced small scale miners in Ghana. Resources Policy 74:1-9, doi:10.1016/j.resourpol.2021.102291.
Marx, K. 1976. Capital, 1. London: Penguin. https://www.surplusvalue.org.au/Marxism/Capital%20-%20Vol.%201%20Penguin.pdf.
McQuilken, J. and Hilson, G. 2016. Artisanal and small-scale gold mining in Ghana. Evidence to inform an ‘action dialogue’. IIED, London.
Ntewusu, S.A. 2018a. 10,000 miners, 10,000 votes: Politics and mining in Ghana. Africa 88(4): 863–866, doi: 10.1017/S0001972018000505.
Ntewusu, S.A. 2018b. ‘A social history of gold mining in Bole, northern Ghana: from pre-colonial to recent times, Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana 17(2015-17):1-26.
Ofosu-Mensah, A. E. 2011. Historical overview of traditional and modern gold mining in Ghana. International Research Journal of Library, Information and Archival Studies 1(1): 006–022.
Ofosu-Mensah, A.E. 2010. Traditional gold mining in Adanse. Nordic Journal of African Studies 19(2):124-147.
Okyere, M., Ayitey, J.Z. and Ajabuin, B.A. 2021. Large scale mining in Ghana: a review of the implications on the host communities. Journal of Degraded and Mining Lands Management 9(1):3193-3199, doi:10.15243/jdmlm.2021.091.3193.
Opoku-Antwi, G.L., Amofah, K. and Nyamaah-Koffuor, K. 2012. Comparative study in the Bibiani, Bolgatanga, Dunkwa and Tarkwa Mining Districts of the Minerals Commission of Ghana. Journal of International Energy Policy 1(1):19-34, doi:10.19030/jiep.v1i1.7160.
Osei-Kojo, A. and Andrews, N. 2016. Questioning the status quo: Can stakeholder participation improve implementation of small-scale mining laws in Ghana? Resources 5(33):1-16, doi:10.3390/resources5040033.
Osumanu, I.K. 2020. Small-scale mining and livelihood dynamics in North-Eastern Ghana: Sustaining rural livelihoods in a changing environment. Progress in Development Studies 20(3):1-15, doi:10.1177/1464993420934223.
Owusu, O., Bansah, K.J. and Mensah, A.K. 2019. Small in size, but big in impact: Socio-environmental reforms for sustainable artisanal and small-scale mining. Journal of Sustainable Mining 18(1):38-44, doi:10.1016/j.jsm.2019.02.001.
Perreault, T. 2012. Disposession by accumulation? mining, water and the nature of enclosure on the Bolivian Altiplano. Antipode 45(5):1050-1069, doi:10.1111/anti.12005.
Pokorny, B., von Lübke, C., Dayamba, S.D. and Dickow, H. 2019. All the gold for nothing? Impacts of mining on rural livelihoods in Northern Burkina Faso. World Development 119:23-39, doi:10.1016/j.worlddev.2019.03.003.
Que, S., Wang, L., Awuah-Offei, K., Chen, Y. and Yang, W. 2018. The status of the local community in mining sustainable development beyond the triple bottom line. Sustainability 10(6):1-11, doi:10.3390/su10061749.
Samson, M. 2015. Accumulation by dispossession and the informal economy – Struggles over knowledge , being and waste at a Soweto garbage dump. Environment and Planning D: Scoiety and Space 33(5):813-830, doi:10.1177/0263775815600058.
Tsikata, F.S. 1997. The vicissitudes of mineral policy in Ghana. Resources Policy 23(1-2):9-14, doi:10.1016/S0301-4207(97)00006-8.
Twerefou D.K., Tutu, K., Owusu-Afriyie, J. and Adjei-Mantey K. 2015. Attitudes of local people to mining policies and interventions. IGC. Working Paper. IGC., London
University of Ghana Business School [UGBS]. 2017. The galamsey menace in Ghana: A political problem requiring political solutions? Policy Brief No. 5, UGBS, Legon.
Wilson, M.L., Renne, E., Roncoli, C. and Agyei-baffour, P. 2015. Integrated Assessment of Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in Ghana—Part 3:Social Sciences and Economics. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 12(7):8133-8156, doi:10.3390/ijerph120708133.
Yakovleva, N. and Vazquez-Brust, D.A. 2018. Multinational mining enterprises and artisanal small-scale miners: From confrontation to cooperation. Journal of World Business 53(1):52-62, doi:10.1016/j.jwb.2017.08.004.
Yankson, P.W.K. and Gough, K.V. 2019. Gold in Ghana: The effects of changes in large-scale mining on artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM). Extractive Industries and Society 6(1):120-128, doi:10.1016/j.exis.2018.09.009.
Zolnikov, T.R. 2020. Effects of the government’s ban in Ghana on women in artisanal and small-scale gold mining. Resources Policy 65:1-6, doi:10.1016/j.resourpol.2019.101561.
- There are currently no refbacks.
Copyright (c) 2022 Journal of Degraded and Mining Lands Management
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.