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Legalizing small scale gold mining in Gbane in the Upper East Region, Ghana


Small Scale Mining has gained global attention for two broad reasons. First, as a source of subsistence for the poor and increasingly becoming the backbone of mineral-rich rural economies in low-income countries, including Ghana. And second, as a cause of environmental degradation, violent crime and armed conflict, among others. Thus, the ills and potential benefits associated with Small Scale Mining have compelled countries to want small scale miners register, so as to monitor and regulate their operations. These attempts take the form of changes in policies and laws so as to allow miners to legalize their operations. In Ghana, artisanal activities were considered illegal prior to 1989. The promulgation of the Small Scale Gold Mining Laws, however, created opportunity for miners to legalize their activities. Notwithstanding the availability of this opportunity to legalize, most small scale miners in Ghana have failed to register. Using qualitative approach, this study seeks to understand why small scale miners in Gbane are still operating without licenses, although the opportunity to acquire a license exists. This study concludes that high license fees, bureaucracy, mistrust, are responsible for the miners’ unpreparedness to legalize their activities.