Dialogue prompts participatory reform in Ghana's artisanal and small-scale mining sector

Press release, 14 September 2016

A group of national government, business and community leaders in Ghana are working to turn the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector into a responsible, inclusive, rights-based engine for sustainable development.

Workers at the Dakete Gold Mine explain health and safety procedures in a powdering station. The IIED dialogue aimed to engage key stakeholders, including mineworkers, in a conversation about the future of ASM mining in Ghana (Photo: Friends of the Nation)

A group of national government, business and community leaders have embarked on a programme of sector reform that will turn the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector into a responsible, inclusive, rights-based engine for sustainable development in Ghana.

They came together as a result of an ongoing process of dialogue and research convened by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), in collaboration with Ghanaian NGO Friends of the Nation

While constituting an estimated 34 per cent of Ghana's gold production in 2014 and the livelihoods of approximately 1 million Ghanaians (and a total 3 million dependents), ASM is better known for its major environmental and social challenges.

Few Ghanaians give credence to, or are even aware of, the income earning and employment opportunities that ASM provides to poor communities in remote areas. Even fewer trust the sector to empower women and young people. 

However, the dialogue process has put the spotlight on what responsible ASM can do. Collaboration, adequate policies and investment can transform the ASM sector into an inclusive sector with secure rights, safe jobs and resources. 

"What we need is a major shift. A shift from an ASM sector driven by poverty and a lack of options, to ASM operations that are run like efficient businesses with adequate access to finance. We need to shift from an insecure and dangerous sector to one that enjoys secure rights and provides safe and decent jobs to mineworkers and the local community," says Dr Toni Aubynn, chief executive officer of the Minerals Commission. 

This participatory reform process started last September. Months of research and consultation paved the way for a gathering of 60 representatives from the Ghana Minerals Commission, government departments, artisanal and small-scale miners, large mining companies, academia and NGOs in the mining district of Tarkwa in January.

Ghana was the first country chosen for an ASM dialogue because of the growing economic and livelihoods' importance of the sector, and the commitment of ASM leaders and institutions to improving it.
 
"Unlocking ASM's potential as an engine for sustainable development calls for an all-systems response looking at how we develop knowledge and policy about ASM, as well as the institutions that underpin the sector. But perhaps more importantly it needs to combine and harness the energies of all Ghanaian stakeholders," says Steve Bass, the dialogues' global convenor and a senior associate at IIED.

"Our dialogues have been informed by in-country research that identifies existing efforts and the potential for integration and collaboration, as well as barriers to progress and the needs of stakeholders."

The dialogues convene and enable local actors to set and implement the agenda, so it is locally-driven and -owned, and inclusive of local miners and their communities. By focusing on local realities, we move beyond talking shops to address how to implement solutions spurred by collaboration. 

"The Tiffany & Co. Foundation believes that promoting responsible mining and supporting mining communities is one of the most important ways we can make an impact," said Anisa Kamadoli Costa, president of The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, a funder of the project. "We are delighted to see the collaboration and dialogue that this process provides."

Contact

Sue Broome (sue.broome@iied.org), IIED senior media officer (interim)

Notes to editors

  • The members of the multi-stakeholder leadership group, called the Learning and Leadership Group, are: Nii Adjetey Kofi-Mensah, ASM Africa Network (ASMAN); Prof. Richard Amankwah, University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa; Godwin Armah, GNASSM; Dr. Toni Aubynn, Ghana Minerals Commission; Collins Oppong, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana; Georgette Sakyi-Addo, mining equipment supplier and Women in Mining, Ghana; Robert Siaw, Goldfields Ghana Ltd; and Amina Tahiru, small-scale miner and GNASSM
  • The Learning and Leadership Group has developed an agenda for action that includes demonstrating the "business case" for responsible ASM, improving practices within the ASM sector, and building support across Ghanaian institutions for ASM as a force for positive growth and equity in the country. The document is available on request
  • The dialogue process commenced last autumn and the dialogue itself started by visiting artisanal and small-scale mine sites, and was followed by two days of workshop discussions with experts from Ghana Minerals Commission, government departments, artisanal and small-scale miners, large mining companies, academia and NGOs
  • IIED's global programme of action dialogues for ASM supports national dialogues in ASM countries across the world. IIED aims to foster multi-stakeholder collaboration through dialogue, which leads to better understanding, roles and relations between the key sector stakeholders. As global convenor, IIED works to influence and share findings in key international forums to ensure that international policymaking is informed by local realities. www.iied.org
  • Friends of the Nation is a Ghanaian NGO that works on natural resource governance and management through research and advocacy on sustainable development. Through their work they have engaged with and supported different stakeholders, including communities, NGOs, government and industry, and
  • Photographs are available upon request.