Over the last few months, Rob Karpati, from The Blended Capital Group, has been guest writing blogs on artisanal mining - one of the tougher challenges in sustainability. One piece of feedback we frequently get from people who have read his writing is 'thanks, we now get the problem, so what can we do'. And so this blog is about providing part of the answer. Formalisation is the preferred pathway, but how to best deliver it?
As with most sustainability topics, the real world answer is complicated. Government's have a clear role, as do NGO's and multilateral agencies, including providers of aid. But they cannot do it on their own. In some cases government led action has been patchy, and building consensus through multi lateral agencies can be slow. Another potentially big part of the solution is the involvement of the large scale miners. They obviously have the resources, and arguably they have the motivation.
Yes, they cannot do it on their own but .....
Summary of a study published in The Conversation
- Artisanal small-scale mining has been practised in Ghana for over a century. In 2018, small-scale miners generated 2.1 million ounces of gold, accounting for 43.1% of total gold production in the country. The sector employs 60% of Ghana’s mining workforce. But this production has come at a cost: water pollution, land degradation, the destruction of agricultural fields, and the discharge of hazardous elements like mercury into soil and water.
- Over the years, Ghana’s government has attempted to formalise artisanal mining operations. It has tried a complete ban on their operations, military interventions, dialogue, alternative livelihood programmes and community mining. But each intervention has brought a corresponding change in strategy by the miners. The net effect is that they haven’t worked.
- The study concludes that command-and-control strategies don’t work. This is because they don’t involve effectively consulting and involving affected communities. They are short-lived and unplanned. They do not address the underlying causes of the problems associated with informal mining.