DOI: 10.1111/1477-8947.12431 ISSN: 0165-0203

Effects of artisanal gold mining and routes towards sustainable development for a low‐profile mining community in Ghana

Justice Mensah, John Oti Amoah, Andrew Nketisiah‐Essoun
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Medicine


The objective of the study is to examine the effects of artisanal and small‐scale gold mining (ASGM) and routes towards sustainable development (SD) for a low‐profile mining community in Ghana. The study drew on the literature on mining, sustainable development, and the Natural Resource Curse (NRC) theory. Data were gathered using semi‐structured interviews and focus group discussions with 203 participants selected through the purposive and snowball sampling methods. The data were analysed using the thematic approach. The findings indicate that although ASGM supported livelihoods through employment and income generation, it had numerous negative effects that weakened the ‘pillars’ of SD, namely social, economic, and environmental sustainability. Among others, the study reveals conflicts, drop‐out and absenteeism among students andpupils, drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, child labour, and violence in the host community. Economically, ASGM affected agricultural production and food security following the destruction of farms and farmlands, while labour and capital were moved from farming to mining. Environmentally, air and water bodies were polluted, flora and fauna destroyed, and productive lands degraded. In short, the SD costs were perceived to be greater than the benefits, lending credence to the NRC theory. Several of these adverse effects were due to the fact that the activities were neither formalized nor regulated. Besides, the operations were characterized by inappropriate technology and lack of geological data, leading to unsustainable mining practices resulting in anti‐development outcomes. By way of routes towards sustainability, it is recommended that the operations be formalized under the existing Community Mining Scheme and regulated to ensure responsible, accountable, and sustainable mining. The Scheme should be strengthened in order to drive positive impact‐making mining operations by means of introducing a sustainability‐oriented licensing regime, sustainable mining technologies, access to land and geological data, stakeholder participation, capacity building on sustainable mining literacy, and eco‐friendly mine closure strategies.

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