The Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining sector in Ghana is Complicated

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. But each intervention has brought a corresponding change in strategy by the miners. The net effect is that they haven’t worked. A research study concludes that the way forward has two elements. The government needs to draw up policies that reduce the environmental and human safety risks. At the same time, it needs to take advantage of the sector’s potential to reduce poverty in rural economies.

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