Ghana Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining – Scoping Mission Report Artisanal Mining and Property Rights (USAID AMPR) Task Order Under the Strengthening Tenure and Resource Rights (STARR II) IDIQ

Background and Purpose 

The USAID Artisanal Mining and Property Rights (USAID AMPR) Project’s main purpose is to address land and resource governance challenges around the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) sector. Field activities of USAID AMPR take place mainly in the Central African Republic (CAR), with a primary focus on diamonds and a secondary focus on gold. The project forms part of assistance in implementing the Kimberley Process, the international mechanism that sets rules and norms for the trade in conflict-free rough diamonds. Through its activities USAID AMPR promotes legal, responsible supply chains and strengthens social cohesion in mining areas. The project’s four components are:

  1. Support the government of the Central African Republic to improve compliance with the KP requirements to promote legal economic activities
  2. Strengthen community resilience, social cohesion and capacity to manage violent conflict in CAR
  3. Assess and better understand the opportunities and challenges of establishing responsible artisanal gold supply chains in CAR
  4. Improve USAID’s programming through better understanding of links between ASM and major development challenges

As part of Component 4, USAID AMPR provides on-demand short-term technical assistance on development challenges associated with ASM to various USAID Operating Units around the globe, with an emphasis on sub-Saharan Africa.

The Ghana ASGM scoping mission was designed as a Component 4 activity in response to an expression of interest by the U.S. Embassy in Ghana on learning more about best practices and options for engaging with the ASGM sector. The Embassy has followed closely the recently lifted ban on illegal mining and the activities of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM). In the past two years they have organized several roundtables and seminars related to ASGM, and have dialogued with key actors like the Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners (GNASSM). The scoping mission aimed at taking stock of the situation and identifying options for further engagement, either through the USAID AMPR Component 4 mechanism or other means.

In addition, the report responded to a need of the USAID Integrated Land and Resource Governance (ILRG) project which is setting up the Supporting Deforestation-Free Cocoa in Ghana initiative. The initiative is a collaboration with the private sector to rehabilitate small farmer-owned cocoa plantations with an emphasis on tenurial arrangements and land-use planning. A November 2018 evaluation carried out by the USAID Communications, Evidence, and Learning (CEL) project suggested that ASGM, often termed galamsey in Ghana, may affect significantly the long-term prospects of the cocoa economy in the pilot area in Wassa Amenfi West District. These impacts include environmental damage from ASGM but also the potential to undermine investments in cocoa production due to high returns from gold. The ASGM scoping mission therefore was intended to contribute additional information on ASGM for use by ILRG as they prepare for additional field activities.

Methodology and Limitation 

The main methods used were direct observation, key informant interviews and review of relevant literature / documentation. The week-long mission was organized around the following activities:

  1. Literature Review. The consultant prepared a partial bibliography of documents (academic literature, project documents, reports) relevant to ASGM in Ghana, especially in cocoa-growing regions, and read these documents to identify key issues and trends.
  2. Attendance of the “Africa Conference on Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining and Quarrying” organized by a local professor with Australian government support on the 28th and 29th of March. The consultant gave a presentation on best practices of ASM formalization (see Annex C), observed discourse and dynamics among actors, and held conversations / interviews with conference participants.
  3. Field Visit to Wassa Amenfi West District. The consultant traveled to Asankrangwa to interview stakeholders, visit gold mining sites and cocoa-producing villages/towns of Kwabeng, Amoamang, Domeabra, and Sikayeakona. In addition, the consultant visited a gold-mining concession north of Akropong in Wassa Amenfi East District.
  4. Key Informant Interviews. The consultant conducted formal and informal stakeholder interviews in Accra, in addition to an out-brief with Maurice Jackson, an Economic Officer at the U.S. Embassy.

The consultant was assisted by an experienced logistician, Mr. René Dogbe, who also had in-depth knowledge of the land tenure dynamics in the communities visited, having worked with the ILRG project previously.

During site visits and key informant interviews, the consultant focused questions around the following:

  • Organization of production and trade, both in theory and in practice
  • Economics of production and trade, including pre-financing and income streams
  • Political economy of ASGM at local and national level including role of elites and foreigners
  • Role of customary chiefs and local communities in mining management
  • Role of government technical institutions at national and local level
  • Perceptions/attitudes of stakeholders about legal and illegal mining
  • Environmental impacts, including destruction of cocoa plantations and use of mercury
  • Land tenure dynamics, including compensation mechanisms between miners and land owners

The key limitation of the scoping mission was its short duration (2.5 days in the field, 2.5 days in Accra). While an effort was made to learn the maximum amount of information, there was insufficient time to triangulate and nuance findings. The recommendations section identifies areas that merit further in-depth research.

Finally, regarding terminology, this report will avoid using the politically charged term galamsey, generally referring to illegal artisanal miners. Due to the negative connotations of this term, as well as its lack of precision, the more neutral term ASM or ASGM is preferable, except when talking about national policy and discourse on the issue. Using the term ASGM also allows an examination of existing practices irrespective of their legal status or political debates.

In addition, while Ghanaian law lumps together small-scale and artisanal mining, which is common practice, this report will generally differentiate between artisanal and small-scale, even if they often occur in symbiosis. Small-scale mining refers to semi-mechanized or fully mechanized ore extraction and treatment in well-defined concessions owned or operated by relatively wealthy individuals or small companies and in which workers are generally employees. Artisanal mining refers to non-mechanized or semi-mechanized mining by highly mobile self-employed individuals or small groups who are often financed by buyers and often from poorer backgrounds. Mechanized mining includes the use of earth movers and fixed installation wash plants, whereas semi-mechanized includes portable machines like water pumps and small crushers / sluices while relying heavily on manual labor.


Further Reading