Movers, motives, and impact of illegal small-scale mining: A case study in Ghana

Osman Antwi-Boateng, Mamudu Akudugu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research unravels the agents and driving motivation behind the rise of illegal small-scale mining in Ghana and its impact. This is accomplished via a qualitative study using illegal small-scale mining in the Talensi and Nabdam districts of Ghana as a case study. At the forefront of this phenomenon are rent-seeking elites, whereas structural factors such as rising unemployment and high population growth, as well as opportunistic factors including low barriers to entry, get-rich quick syndrome, and political corruption/weak institutions are fueling it as well. Although there are some economic benefits of illegal small-scale mining, these benefits are undermined by factors associated with the Resource Curse Hypothesis (RCH) or the 'Paradox of Plenty.' We argue that most illegal small-scale mining communities are characterized by increased rent-seeking activities by diverse stakeholders particularly the elites, poor investments in human capital development, and weak institutional structures and processes. To sustainably address the illegal small-scale gold mining menace in Ghana, all efforts should be aimed at holistically dealing with the rent-seekers, especially the elites involved, eliminating their motives and removing the conditions that facilitate their involvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-424
Number of pages23
JournalPerspectives on Global Development and Technology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Africa
  • Galamsey
  • Ghana
  • Gold
  • Illegal mining
  • Resource curse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Education
  • Development
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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