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Introduction: Facts about the mining industry in Ghana

The mining industry has always played an important role in Ghana´s development. Since the regularization of 1989 when the first legal framework for registration of small-scale gold and diamond mines, mineral production and sales was established in the country, the sector has produced and sold around 1.5 million troy ounces of gold and 8.0 million carats of diamonds. The production of minerals has often been at the cost of local environment and has produced a negative impact on society. In order to make the industry more sustainable, the integration of the three pillars of sustainable development is required. Nevertheless, there are still difficulties in conducting a stakeholder dialogue about this issue as the interests of stakeholders are so different [1].

Are research institutions really partners for dialogue about long term visions?

Research Institutions like the International Institute for Environmental and Development (IIED), established in 1999, the Mining and Energy Research Network (MERN) and other groups active in the region play an important role in stakeholder dialogue about long term visions for development. They develop an institutional framework for the different groups in order to cover all interests in the best way and lead the industry toward sustainability. One of the MERN studies shows us that the environmental performance of a company relates more to its "capacity to innovate than to the regulatory regime under which it operates" [2].

The aims of the institutional framework are to establish satisfactory voluntary standards and to identify instruments that will help to make the services of mining companies more sustainable. Apart from this, it is very important to create platforms for analysis, communication and engagement among all stakeholders in the sector to be able to mitigate the negative effects of small-scale gold and diamond mining. Another task of the research institutions is to advise on key elements which can improve the systems of mineral extraction and therefore find the means of transition to sustainable development [3].

The role of research institutions in stakeholder dialogue

The Research Institutions play an important role of the mediator between varieties of stakeholders’ interests. Especially when there is an urge need to combine the economic growth of the region as primary aim with interest in higher standards of performance and avoiding damage in sensitive ecological and cultural areas. Local communities expect positive changes—employment, infrastructure—after the start of the projects and moreover they expect companies to respect their rights. Research institutions can help to solve this, since the environmental performance of a company is often a function of its efficiency. The aim of efficiency usually results in a quest for environmental achievements at no extra cost [2]. Other positive externalities could also be identified by research, as employees are interested in safer and healthier work conditions and security when employment ends. And as consumers they demand safe products produced according to environmental and social standards. How it is possible to combine all these wishes so that in the end everybody is satisfied? Policy should aim to promote environmental innovation and innovative capacity in the sector [2](p.21).

Some of these plans are already present in the UNCED Agenda 21 and are also reflected in the formation of the International Council on Metals and the Environment (ICME) [2](p.25).

Possible Solutions

Consolidation of democratic procedures of decision-making

The scientific field of the mining industry can be employed in different ways. In particular, the sustainability perspective will win if it slightly re-focuses its subject of exploration. There is a variety of solutions from sustainable perspective which should be adopted on these three levels: Local, National and Global. On the local level the industry shall provide jobs, directly as well as indirectly to aid in the developing of the national economy. Democratic procedures of decision-making process as community engagement, integrated impact assessment or community sustainable plan shall be taken. In order to provide transparency and to decrease informational asymmetry the government shall provide access to information for all society groups and encourage public participation. Beside this land rights regimes and compensation systems shall be developed to maximize the benefits of mineral development. Research institutions must distinguish between small scale mining and large scale mining in their policy proposals [4].

Innovations in technical processes

Innovation encouraging regulatory scheme forms an important part of the plan. The biggest challenge of pollution-prevention control is that large number of firms that cause pollution often has little capacity for innovation [2]. Expenditure programs and incentives are required for mechanisms of promotion of environmental innovation. These must be connected to on site recultivation of the mined areas, monitoring of altering of air, soil and water quality. The motivation of a company to innovate under these regulatory measures should be in "reducing the long-term risk of expensive shutdowns, costly court cases" [2](p.4). Regulatory framework also needs to provide environment in which companies can commercialize their own custom technology. Cleanup can also be connected with s reclaim of material, which is economic by itself. Generally the pollution-prevention pays principle positions a company in a competitive advantage if it eliminates all pollution induced costs. According to Alison Warhurst, best incentives for environmental regulation are emission taxes and auctioned permits.

Roles of research institutions in the small-scale mining industry

The support and advancement of artisanal and small-scale mining is essential to secure the economic prosperity of small local communities and to improve the environmental impact of those prevalent activities (APPIAH 1998); Ghana recently regulated small scale mining through a Small-Scale Gold Mining Law and bodies of governmental influence such as the Precious Mineral Marketing Corporation. Legal miners operate by a concession and the minister of mines provides several centers of technical extension services[5](p.133). The illegal operators operate uncontrollably under the "hit and run" regime [5](p.133). Both can be target of investments and transition from local to semi mechanized mining.

As B.NA.Aryee, B.K.Ntibery, E. Atorkui state, the sector of small scale mining would also benefit from certain improvements of geological information availability (geological surveys), geological site and liabilities management, geological and technological education of the miners for both the illegal and legal miners.

Information distribution programs

According to B.NA.Aryee at al., there are already several measures in place, such as the system of legalization, under which workers are required approval from environmental protection agency which is further verified through controls and threat of sanctions [5](p.137). Technical support and education is provided in training and workshops (since 2000, also bookkeeping and cost calculation and mercury pollution abatement is included). Other measures are considered for adoption[5], such as the provision of geological information to miners [6] and development of ample processing techniques.

Global tasks

On the global level the Global Labour-Management Agreement shall be adopted as well as Reporting Guidelines shall be developed to provide transparency and fairness. Through the dialogue of mineral legacies is supposed to develop a Complaints and Dispute Resolution Mechanism and sustainable Development Support Facility.


  1. (AMANKWA, ANIM-SACKE 2002: 1)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Warhurst A.(ed)(1998): Mining and Environment Case Stidies from the AmericasAvailable from (Access on 08.01.2012).
  3. (MMSD 2002: 15)
  4. Hentschel T, Nruschka F, Priester F.(2002): GLOBAL REPORT ON ARTISANAL AND SMALL-SCALE MINING. Working Paper 70, Mining, Minerals and sustainable Development (MMSD) Project, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Aryee, B.N., Ntibery, B.K., Atorkui E.(2003): Trends in the Small Scale Mining of Precious Minerals. In: Ghana: A Perspektive of its Environmental Impact, Journal of Cleaner Production. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "ARYEE" defined multiple times with different content
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