Shifting sand, shifting livelihoods? Reflections on a coastal gold rush in Ghana
Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is often characterised as rush-type activity undertaken by people looking to ‘get-rich quick’. An alternative view posits ASM as poverty-driven activity which provides a valuable source of employment to a rural population where agriculture has failed to provide an adequate income. Against this dichotomy, this article critically reviews the short-lived, but high profile, gold rush which occurred on the beaches of Elmina, a fishing town in Ghana’s Central Region. At its peak, more than 1000 people, including local fishermen and career miners from the Western Region and Eastern Region of the country, were mining on the beaches. Drawing on interviews with miners and local business owners, the analysis explores the dynamics of the rush and its implications for understanding the ASM sector in Ghana. The discussion highlights the challenges associated with managing resources in dynamic and heterogeneous contexts, reconciling separate and conflicting sectoral priorities and the need to go beyond simplified and dualistic representations of the sector.
Read full paper https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resourpol.2013.08.005.