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Shifting sand, shifting livelihoods? Reflections on a coastal gold rush in Ghana

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  • Hirons, Mark

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Hirons, Mark, 2014. "Shifting sand, shifting livelihoods? Reflections on a coastal gold rush in Ghana," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 83-89.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jrpoli:v:40:y:2014:i:c:p:83-89
    DOI: 10.1016/j.resourpol.2013.08.005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Tschakert, Petra & Ricciardi, Vincent & Smithwick, Erica & Machado, Mario & Ferring, David & Hausermann, Heidi & Bug, Leah, 2016. "Situated knowledge of pathogenic landscapes in Ghana: Understanding the emergence of Buruli ulcer through qualitative analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 160-171.
    2. Tschakert, Petra, 2016. "Shifting Discourses of Vilification and the Taming of Unruly Mining Landscapes in Ghana," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 123-132.
    3. Kotsadam, Andreas & Tolonen, Anja, 2016. "African Mining, Gender, and Local Employment," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 325-339.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM); Ghana; Elmina; Gold rush; Livelihood diversification; Q32; Q34; Q38; O13; O17;

    JEL classification:

    • Q32 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Exhaustible Resources and Economic Development
    • Q34 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Natural Resources and Domestic and International Conflicts
    • Q38 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy (includes OPEC Policy)
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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