This study examines the implementation challenges of small-scale mining laws in the Bekwai Municipality of Ghana. The study adopted the qualitative approach using a case study design. Primary data were obtained through in-depth interviews and focus group discussions. Among others, this study found that illegal mining is a formidable challenge to the implementation of small-scale mining laws in the Bekwai Municipality. The study also found that scarcity of logistical and human resources undermines the implementation of small-scale mining laws in the Municipality.
- small-scale mining
- Bekwai Municipality
Introduction and Background
It has been observed that the success of public administration depends on the effective implementation of public policy. Anderson (2011) defines public policy as the purposive course of action followed by an actor or a set of actors in dealing with a problem or matter of concern. Edwards (1980) defines policy implementation as a stage of policymaking between the establishment of a policy (such as the passage of a legislative act, the issuing of an executive order, or the promulgation of a regulatory rule) and the consequences of the policy for the people whom it affects. Pressman and Wildavsky (1986) view implementation as “the ability to forge subsequent links in the causal chain so as to obtain the desired results” (p. 14). These definitions imply that implementation means following a series of logical steps which include a progression from intention through decision to action. Implementation as a framework forms the cornerstone of this study, as without effective implementation of small-scale mining laws, achieving the intended purpose of effective regulation of the small-scale mining industry will be a mirage.
Implementation primarily means to carry out, to accomplish, to fulfill, or to actualize a plan (Asamoah, 2013). Policy implementation is regarded as the accomplishment of policy objectives through the planning and programming of operations and projects, so that agreed-upon outcomes and desired impacts are achieved to enhance socioeconomic development (Van Meter & Van Horn, 1975). Policies are formulated, implemented, and evaluated by actors in a political system, for example, judges, legislators, executives, and administrators. Given the relevance of implementation to the success of public policy, small-scale mining laws have been enacted to regulate the small-scale mining industry in Ghana. The objective of regulating small-scale mining can only be accomplished with robust implementation of such laws by all key stakeholders, as without effective implementation policies tend to lose their significance. Implementation has been observed to be associated with some fundamental challenges, and implementation of small-scale mining laws in Bekwai Municipality, probably, may not be an exception to this observation.
According to Dreschler (2001), small-scale mining
refers to operations of individuals organized in groups (four to eight individuals) or co-operatives of ten or more individuals, which are entirely financed by existing resources at a certain limit, and carried out on a full-time basis using simple traditional techniques or tools of low mechanization levels. (p. 20)
Dreschler’s assertion is true to the extent that most of the small-scale miners use traditional tools such as pick axe and chisel, but the trend is gradually changing whereby sophisticated tools such as excavator and stone crusher are being used for the practice. Furthermore, while majority of small-scale miners engage in it on a full-time basis, others, such as women and students, do it on a part-time basis to support their family and pay for tuition. The United Nations (1972, cited in Aryee, Ntibery, & Atorkui, 2003) defines small-scale mining as “any single unit mining operation having an annual production of unprocessed materials of 50 000 tonnes, or less as measured at the entrance of the mine.” Krappmann (2006) classifies small-scale mining into three categories according to size, namely, microscale miners, mechanized small-scale miners, and the most advanced category of small-scale miners represented by mining enterprises.
Several policy and institutional reforms have featured prominently in an attempt to regulate the small-scale mining industry toward the economic development agenda of Ghana (Akabzaa, 2000). These reforms were part of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF)–proposed structural adjustment reforms adopted by Ghana and majority of African countries in the 1980s to fight poor economic performance. The small-scale mining law was first promulgated in 1989 and was amended in 2006 as Minerals and Mining Act, Act 703. Among others, the law provides for the streamlining of all mineral rights, licensing procedures, and a favorable competitive fiscal regime.
The notion of implementation reinforces the fact that governmental actors have a critical role to play in implementation of small-scale mining laws in Ghana. Stretching this argument further, implementation of small-scale mining laws must take into consideration the various stakeholders and institutions involved in mining. These include elected politicians, the various arms of the bureaucracy, unelected public/civil servants, and the plethora of rules, regulations, laws, conventions, and policies which surround government. The main state actors involved in implementation of mining laws are the legislature, government departments and authorities, the judiciary, enforcement agencies, other levels of government, government-business enterprises and corporations, regulatory authorities, and a range of para-state organizations, such as labor organizations (Hall & Jenkins, 1995). A strong positive correlation between these actors would play a significant role in the implementation process.
Manaf (1999) suggests that despite the significance of small-scale mining to economic development in Ghana, mining posed serious environmental challenges, the most widespread being land degradation, and water pollution leading to ill health of people. Gold mining has, however, played a significant role in the socioeconomic life of Ghana for the past 100 years (Akabzaa et al., 2005, cited in Tom-Dery, Dagben, & Cobbina, 2012). Although small-scale mining plays a critical role in the economic development of Ghana, the practice is associated with illegal mining, environmental degradation, and loss of human life. The general perception is that implementation of small-scale mining laws to regulate the industry is confronted with a lot of challenges. This study uses a qualitative research method to assess the challenges confronting the implementation of small-scale mining laws in Ghana using the Bekwai Municipality as a case study.
Statement of the Problem
The importance of small-scale mining in Ghana cannot be overstated. Despite the fact that each small-scale mining operation is very small, the combined economic and social impact is significant in many developing economies. It is estimated that within Sub-Saharan Africa, small-scale mining produces gold and gemstones worth about US$1 billion (International Labor Organization [ILO], 1999). In Ghana, the sector employs about 500,000 in small-scale gold, diamond, and quarry production (Government of Ghana Budget Statement, 2011). It must also be emphasized further that this sub-sector produces minerals from deposits which are uneconomical on a large scale. The enormous contribution of the small-scale mining industry to the economy of Ghana provides ample justification to examine the laws regulating its very existence to ascertain if they are achieving the desired results.
Small-scale mining brings several benefits to developing countries, manifested mainly in providing employment and generating revenue. Although not capital-intensive, small-scale mining requires sufficient manpower; labor-intensive small-scale mining operations are economically feasible because investment costs per job are typically only 10% to 12% as compared with those costs in large mining operations (United Nations [UN], 1992). Small-scale mining, therefore, has a major impact on the employment situation in the developing world, especially in rural areas where there are few job alternatives. Despite these positive contributions, small-scale mining may have a negative impact not only because of the manner in which business is conducted but also as a result of deficiencies in the regulatory framework for small-scale mining. The enactment of relevant legislation and its effective implementation could have a positive impact on the economies of developing countries. There is a strong emphasis on effective implementation because the general belief is that developing economies are experts in crafting policies while implementation continues to be a bane. Thus, the effective implementation of the requisite small-scale mining laws will help reduce such negative practices like illegal mining to the barest minimum.
Up until the 1980s, small-scale mining activities in Ghana remained largely unregulated and received little, if any, support from governmental bodies. This, however, changed with the implementation of the national Economic Recovery Plan (ERP), which, following years of careful planning, was finally launched in the mid-1980s (Botchway, 1995, cited in Hilson, 2001). Most small-scale miners in Ghana are engaged in the extraction of gold and diamonds because they can generate wealth quickly. Approximately two thirds of Ghana’s small-scale miners are engaged in the extraction of gold (World Bank, 1995, cited in Hilson, 2001). Considering the fact that small-scale mining can lead to a wastage of nonrenewable resources and be hazardous to human and environmental health, it is of paramount importance to investigate if the laws meant to regulate small-scale mining activities are accordingly being implemented.
Although an increasing number of countries have recognized small-scale mining as a significant sector of the economy, the general perception is that implementation of small-scale mining laws has been a major challenge for Ghana. These challenges in most cases have been institutional, technical, financial, legal, and cultural in nature. The perceived poor enforcement of small-scale mining laws has contributed to significant uncontrolled mining activities such as illegal mining, environmental degradation, and loss of revenue in terms of taxes to government. The combination of uncontrolled activities, poor health and safety standards, adverse environmental impact and loss of revenue have necessitated the need to investigate the challenges of implementation of small-scale mining laws in Bekwai Municipality. The justification of the choice of Bekwai Municipality rests on the assumption that there has not been an effective institutional framework for implementing small-scale mining laws in the Municipality.
Objectives of the Study
This study assesses the implementation challenges of small-scale mining laws in the Bekwai Municipality. In line with this goal, the study is underpinned by the following objectives:
To determine the nature and extent of small-scale mining in the Bekwai Municipality.
To examine the effectiveness of the institutional framework for implementing small-scale mining laws in the Bekwai Municipality.
To investigate the challenges in the implementation of small-scale mining laws in the Bekwai Municipality.
To achieve the above-mentioned objectives, the study is guided by the following research questions:
Research Question 1: What is the nature and extent of small-scale mining in the Bekwai Municipality?
Research Question 2: How effective is the institutional framework in the implementation of small-scale mining laws in the Bekwai Municipality?
Research Question 3: What are the implementation challenges confronting implementation agencies in implementing small-scale mining laws in the Bekwai Municipality?
This study adopted the qualitative approach to assess the implementation of small-scale mining laws in the Bekwai Municipality. According to Creswell (2013), qualitative research is “the use of interpretative/theoretical frameworks that inform the study of research problems addressing the meaning individuals or groups ascribe to a social or human problem” (p. 44). In the view of Babbie (2004), “qualitative field research enables researchers to observe social life in its natural habitat: to go where the action is and watch” (p. 281). This approach is therefore relevant as the researchers sought to identify and interpret the perceptions of the stakeholders about the implementation challenges of small-scale mining laws in the Municipality.
The case study design was used to conduct the study. This refers to “a kind of research that concentrates on one thing, looking at it in detail, not seeking to generalize from it” (Thomas, 2011, p. 1). The use of the case study research design enhanced understanding of the problem under study. This was to ensure that results of the study were of a high quality.
Sources of Data
Two main sources of data were used for the study. This comprised secondary and primary data. The secondary data consist of sources such as the Minerals and Mining Law, Act 703 (2006), journal articles, books, magazines, and conference reports relevant to the objectives of the study. The primary data used for the study include information from key informant interviews and focus group discussions with selected participants.
Sampling Size and Sampling Technique
The purposive sampling technique was used to select key informants for the study. The technique enabled the researchers to select respondents with in-depth knowledge and understanding of the implementation of small-scale mining laws in the Municipality. A sample size of twenty-five key informants was purposively selected for the study. The key informant interviews allowed the researchers to collect data from officials of the Minerals Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Ghana, and Bekwai Municipal Assembly.
The focus group discussions and the key informant interview techniques were the main instruments used for data collection. One focus group discussion was conducted with selected stakeholders about challenges in the implementation of small-scale mining laws in the Municipality. This discussion enabled the researchers to interview relevant stakeholders who are directly involved in the implementation of small-scale mining laws in the Municipality. The selection of the group was based on the similarity of characteristics to ease interactions with the interviewer. The key informant interview was also used for data collection. Key informant interviews are qualitative in-depth interviews with individuals who have in-depth knowledge about the topic under study.
Established by Legislative Instrument 1759 on February 18, 2004, the Bekwai Municipality is one of the 30 administrative districts in the Ashanti Region. The Municipality shares boundaries with Amansie West District to the west, Bosomtwe District to the north, Adansi South and North Districts to the south, and Asante Akim South District to the east. The Municipality covers total land area of about 633 km2. According to the Ghana Statistical Service (2010), the Municipality has a population of 118,024. Out of this, 55,615 are male while 62,409 are female.
The major occupation of inhabitants in the Municipality is agriculture, which gives employment to about 58.2% of the total labor force in the District; agriculture is also the major source of income to households in the Municipality. Some of the food crops produced in the Municipality include the following: cassava, rice, maize, yam, plantain, and cocoa. Other economic activities that the inhabitants engage in are fishing and mining.
In terms of infrastructure, the Municipality has 116 kindergarten/nursery schools, 195 primary schools, 94 junior high schools, six senior high schools, and one vocational school, under the Department of Community Development. All the schools mentioned are public schools; but there are also private schools. The Municipality has 14 health facilities, with Bekwai and Kokofu Hospitals being the main government hospitals. The facilities provide clinical care, preventive, promotive, and rehabilitative services.
The purpose of data analysis is to organize, provide structure to, and elicit meaning from research data (Polit & Beck, 2012). The data that were collected from key informant interviews and focus group discussions were analyzed qualitatively to reflect the objectives of the research.
The literature review covered a critical analysis of previous studies on small-scale mining relevant to the objectives of the study. The review covered themes including the following: defining small-scale mining, the institutional framework for implementing small-scale mining laws, and the challenges of the implementation of small-scale mining laws in the Municipality.
Defining Small-Scale Mining
Different scholars and practitioners tend to assign different definitions to small-scale mining, and this has culminated into a difficulty in settling on a universal definition for small-scale mining. The definitions vary depending on considerations such as the macroeconomic situation, the geological framework, the mining history, and legal conditions that shape the definition of small-scale mining (Hentschel, Hruschka, & Priester, 2003). The difficulty in arriving at a universally acceptable definition of small-scale mining probably reflects the conflicting understanding and misunderstanding of scholars on the subject of small-scale mining. One manifestation of this conflict is the use of “artisanal mining” or “small-scale mining” in the avalanche of literature on the subject. For purposes of convenience, artisanal mining and small-scale mining, in this study, are used interchangeably.
Hentschel et al. (2003) view artisanal small-scale mining as “mining by individuals, groups, families or cooperatives with minimal or no mechanization, often in the informal (illegal) sector of the market” (p. 5). This definition is in line with the definition of Dreschler (2001) that small-scale mining is done in the traditional way with little or no mechanization. Shen and Gunson (2006) explain that artisanal small-scale mining as “the use of rudimentary processes to extract valuable minerals from primary and secondary ore bodies, and is characterized by the lack of long-term mine planning/control” (p. 427). One clear trend that permeates all the definitions is the traditional approach to mining. The resort to traditional tools is probably because it makes it easier for households and groups to engage in small-scale mining as a major source of income. In Ghana, small-scale mining is defined as mining by any method not involving substantial expenditure by an individual or a group of persons not exceeding nine in number or by a corporate society made up of 10 or more persons (Provisional National Defence Council [PNDC] Law, 218, 1989).
The characteristics of small-scale mining that can be deduced from the definitions include the following: that the level of mechanization in small-scale mining is low, and that small-scale mining is usually in the informal (illegal) sector. These characteristics of small-scale mining are affirmed by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED; 2002) report that “artisanal and small scale mining operations exploit marginal or small deposits, lack capital, are labor intensive, have poor access to markets and support services, have low standards of health and safety and have significant negative impact on the environment” (p. 315). Small-scale mining is believed to be undertaken by some of the world’s poorest and occurs in some of the most remote areas of the world (Buxton, 2013).
Even though small-scale mining is criticized for causing extensive damage to the environment, the World Bank (2005) suggests that artisanal and small-scale mining is an important sector that provides a source of livelihood to many people in fragile, rural economies; the reason is that the barriers to entry are low, requiring relatively little financial, educational, and technological investment. The easy accessibility provides enough impetus for a lot of people to undertake this venture; for this reason, appropriate implementation of the regulation is necessary to sanitize the industry. There are 20 to 30 million people who engage in artisanal and small-scale mining globally, with the sector supporting in between 3 and 5 people indirectly (Buxton, 2013). Also, artisanal small-scale mining contributes between 15% to 20% of global minerals and metals, producing approximately 80% of all sapphires, 20% of all gold, and up to 20% of diamonds (Levin, 2013, cited in Buxton, 2013). This seemingly high number of people who engage in small-scale mining globally, and the scale of its contribution to global gold and metal production is due to the lucrativeness of the sector, in terms of its contribution to household income and the growth of local economies (Siegel & Viega, 2009, cited in Buxton, 2013).
In Ghana, small-scale mining has been an important economic activity since the pre-colonial period (Holloway, 1997, cited in Centre for Development Studies, 2004), and the sector has grown rapidly in recent years due to poverty (Hilson, Yakovlava, & Banchirigah, 2007). Artisanal small-scale mining attracts laborers, small holder farmers, redundant public-sector employees, teachers, and other educators and students working to earn money to pay for their tuition (Hilson & Ackah-Baidoo, 2010). Available evidence suggests that 60% of Ghana’s mining labor force is employed in small-scale mines (Centre for Development Studies, 2004).
Effectiveness of the Institutional Framework for the Implementation of Small-Scale Mining Laws
Measuring the progress in the implementation of small-scale mining laws can be gauged by assessing the institutional framework for the implementation of small-scale mining laws. In Ghana, the major institutional framework directing the implementation of small-scale mining laws is the Minerals and Mining Act (2006), Act 703; small-scale mining is covered in between Sections 81 and 99 of the Minerals and Mining Act. Other institutional frameworks for the implementation of small-scale mining laws include the following: the Minerals Commission Act, 1993, Act 450 and EPA Act, 1993, Act 451.
Based on these frameworks, institutions such as the Minerals Commission and the EPA have the core mandate to oversee the implementation of small-scale mining laws. The institutional frameworks also mandate other institutions such as the Ghana Police Service and the District Assembly to play auxiliary roles in the implementation of small-scale mining laws.
The literature on institutional effectiveness points to difficulties in arriving at a universal definition of the concept. This difficulty exists due to the dearth of an ultimate benchmark, as organizations tend to pursue multiple and sometimes divergent goals (Warner, 1967). Irrespective of the challenges in establishing a universal definition of institutional effectiveness, some suggestions are worth mentioning. In a study by the University of Texas at Austin (2011), they defined institutional effectiveness as identifying the processes that are used by an institution to ascertain how well its mission is being accomplished.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools/Commission on Colleges (SACS/COC; 2012) Resource Manual also explains institutional effectiveness as “the systematic, explicit, and documented process of measuring performance against mission in all aspects of an institution” (p. 115). Assessing effectiveness focuses on analyzing the outcomes of the organization—evaluating whether it is having the desired impact. Among the core insights that can be deduced from the definition comprise the following: that institutional effectiveness is linked to matching the work of an institution to its mandate; and that institutional effectiveness is a process rather than an event. In linking the definitions of institutional effectiveness to the institutions under consideration (the Minerals Commission, the Ghana Police Service, the EPA, and the Bekwai Municipal Assembly), the pertinent question that the study seeks to address is as follows: To what extent are the objectives and mandates of these institutions being achieved in relation to their goals?
Institutional effectiveness yields benefits to organizations including the following: It makes organizations obtain better information to assess policies and practices; it also enables organizations to draw on evidence to make changes and demonstrate responsiveness to public needs and concerns (University of Texas at Austin, 2011). In spite of the benefits of institutional effectiveness, there are challenges in assessing organizational effectiveness. In a study by Cameron (1978), he examined the concept of organizational effectiveness in institutions of higher education. According to the study, a major problem in assessing organizational effectiveness is the problem of criteria. This problem relates to the selection of the type of criteria, which indicate effectiveness, and the sources of the criteria.
To achieve organisational effectiveness, Klein and Sorra (1996) suggest the existence of two variables in organizational life. These variables include the following: implementation climate and innovation-values fit. Implementation climate deals with the shared perception of the extent to which the use of a specific innovation is rewarded, supported, and expected within an organization, while innovation-values fit refers to the perceived fit of the innovation with the user’s fit. They further add that the variables that support implementation climate include the following: timely and readily accessible training and allocation of financial resources. Considering the variables that are critical to achieving organizational success, it is instructive to mention that the institutions that are mandated to implement small-scale mining laws need to create the needed implementation climate, while ensuring that the stakeholders in the implementation process share in the core goals and objectives of implementing small-scale mining laws.
Challenges in the Implementation of Small-Scale Mining Laws
Government agencies aim at implementing their goals and decisions to transform the environment in which their citizens live. But experience has shown that it is one thing to design a policy, and it is entirely different to implement that policy. Policy implementation is thus a painstaking process that is often plagued with many challenges. For instance, Turner and Hulme (1997) argue that “implementation is not easy and straightforward and cannot be simply classified as a technical exercise involving calculated choices of appropriate techniques” (p. 75). O’Toole (2007) adds that
policy implementation is an important and arduous task in many institutional settings; it requires institutions to carry out the burden of transforming general policy intent into an array of rule, routines and social processes that can convert policy intention into action. (p. 142)
In Ghana, one formidable challenge that undermines the implementation of small-scale mining laws is illegal mining—known in local parlance as galamsey. Artisanal mining “is often incapable of meeting legal requirements and regulations designed for the medium or large scale mining sector; it is synonymous with informal or illegal mining” (Hruschka & Echavarria, 2011, p. 6). For convenience, illegal mining is defined as mining without license. The problem is that most small-scale mining is done illegally because the sector is largely unregulated and unmonitored in most parts of Sub-Saharan Africa (Hilson & Ackah-Baidoo, 2010). Consequently, illegal mining has resulted in a situation in which “as many as 10 or more people are sometimes buried in one mine accidents as the deep holes they had themselves dug to find gold caved in, burying them alive” (Duodu, 2013, p. 38).
To buttress the risky nature of illegal mining, it was reported that
three illegal miners perished as a result of the collapse of one of the pits in which they operated. The incident occurred at Hiawa in the Amenfi Central District in Western Region. The police spent close to four hours retrieving the corpse of Kwame Afedzi, 29; Yaw Sarpon, 27; and Yaw Berko, 35 from the pit. (“The Galamsey Operators Die in Pit,” 2012, p. 64)
As a result of the threat that illegal mining poses to the implementation of small-scale mining laws, the Government of Ghana launched an inter-ministerial task force
to flush out Ghanaians and foreigners engaged in illegal mining in the country; the five-member task force will work in a coordinated manner with the military and the police to arrest and prosecute Ghanaians and foreigners engaged in illegal mining. (“President Inaugurated Committee to Deal With the Problem of Illegal Mining in Ghana,” 2013, pp. 1, 17)
Buxton (2013) suggests that there are structural challenges such as institutional weaknesses, government corruption, easy transportability of minerals, and numerous complex trading chains in the implementation of small-scale mining laws. These challenges can be linked to the lack of requisite knowledge on the part of illegal miners about the requirements of the small-scale mining law, traditional and cultural behaviors, little incentives from government to operate legally, high tax burden, limited access to mining titles, and demanding bureaucratic procedures to gain and remain a formal operation (Hentschel et al., 2003). In a study by Hilson (2001, cited in Centre for Development Studies, 2004), he suggests that the procedure for obtaining a small-scale license is long and tedious, which requires potential small-scale miners to go through a rigorous procedure in getting approval from central government. The Centre for Development Studies (2004) explains that while regularization is an important step in regulating small-scale mining, when the process becomes stringent and inaccessible without empathy for the reality of artisanal small-scale mining livelihoods, it can be counterproductive.
Another challenge regarding the implementation of small-scale mining laws is the laxity on the part of enforcement agencies and politicians to strictly apply the requirements of the small-scale mining law. Under poor government control, unregistered miners are encouraged to operate as politicians during election campaign seasons tend to promise illegal miners of “better conditions” under their leadership (Teschner, 2012), and corruption among implementation agencies creates a fertile ground for miners to operate outside what the law requires (Blunch, Sudharshan, & Dhushyanth, 2001). These assertions reflect the realities on the ground in Ghana. Politicians use their political campaigns to assure illegal small-scale miners of their support when voted into power. This covert support for illegal miners by political leaders seriously undermines implementation of mining laws.
Presentation of Data and Discussion of Findings
The general purpose of the study was to undertake a contextual analysis of the implementation of small-scale mining laws in the Bekwai Municipality. Three objectives were set to achieve the general purpose of the study. Based on these objectives, the researchers gathered data on the nature of small-scale mining in the Bekwai Municipality, the effectiveness of the institutional framework in the implementation of small-scale mining laws in the Bekwai Municipality, and the challenges that undermine the implementation agencies in executing their mandate. The data obtained from interactions with the relevant stakeholders are thus thematically presented as follows.
The Nature and Extent of Small-Scale Mining in the Bekwai Municipality
From the interactions with officers at the Bekwai Municipal Assembly, it was observed that small-scale mining has existed for quite a long time in the Municipality, and the practice has provided economic support to those who engage in it. One of the respondents said that
Small-scale mining operations has existed in the Bekwai Municipality for about 75 years, and it is considered as one of the economic mainstays in the Municipality.
Another key respondent from the Assembly added that
Small-scale mining benefits the people of Bekwai Municipality in diverse ways such as economic benefits, infrastructural development, and social revenue improvement. Young ladies in most of these communities where the activities are carried out engage in petty trading such as selling foodstuffs and other items; this significantly improves their income level.
In an interview with one of the miners, he revealed that small-scale mining has helped him further his education as his parents do not have the means. Here is what he said:
I am in SHS 2 at Bekwai SDA School, and I normally go into small-scale mining during vacation in order to raise money to pay my school fees.
As a result of the 75 years of existence of small-scale mining operations in the Municipality, there are quite a number of communities in the Municipality that engage in small-scale mining. According to a key respondent at the Municipal Assembly, these communities include the following:
Koninyaw, Edwinase, Dotom, Pepedan, Dwomakro, Bogyewe, and Kokoro; among these communities, small scale mining in the Municipality is mostly carried out at Koninyaw.
The finding that small-scale mining has existed for 75 years in the Bekwai Municipality corroborates the assertion that small-scale mining is an old practice in Ghana. This is consistent with the findings of Holloway (1997, cited in Centre for Development Studies, 2004) that small-scale mining dates back to the precolonial period.
In the Bekwai Municipality, men and women as well as youth who have dropped out of school engage in small-scale mining. In an interview with one of the key respondents at the Minerals Commission, he revealed that
Small-scale mining is being carried out by the indigenous people including male and female, and the youth who drop out of school.
However, he was quick to add that
children are not allowed to engage in small-scale mining in the Bekwai Municipality.
Even though the reason for disallowing children to engage in small-scale mining was not mentioned by the respondent, it could be deduced that the laborious and dangerous nature of the work could be the reason why children are not allowed to engage in small-scale mining. The practice of barring children from engaging in small-scale mining in the Bekwai Municipality deserves commendation from the relevant authorities and must be emulated by other communities where small-scale mining exists in Ghana.
One of the dangers of small-scale mining is uncovered pits. In most cases, these pits become traps that endanger human and animal life in communities where small-scale mining takes place. The creation of uncovered pits due to small-scale mining operations, according to the literature, is no different from what happens in the Bekwai Municipality.
Here is what a respondent from the EPA said:
Small-scale mining in the municipality has been characterized by open pits besieged by unskilled youth who confidently dig for gold to sell to prospective buyers, without care for the dangers being created for themselves, the inhabitants and the environment.
Small-scale mining often uses simple tools and equipments such as pick axe, shovel, hammer, and chisel. A respondent from the Minerals Commission explained that
Small-scale mining in the municipality involves the use of simple tools and the absence of a formal enterprise. Because of the informal nature of the operations, even subsistent farmers get involved on a seasonal basis.
Based on the findings, it can be concluded that the nature of small-scale mining in the Bekwai Municipality is that small-scale mining is not a new practice in the Bekwai Municipality; that simple tools such as chisel and hammer are used; that children are not allowed to engage in the practice; and that small-scale mining is a source of livelihood for some people in District despite its dangers.
Effectiveness of the Institutional Framework for the Implementation of Small-Scale Mining Laws in the Bekwai Municipality
The operation of small-scale mines in Ghana is not new. However, it was only in 1989 that the Government of Ghana passed the PNDC Law (PNDCL) 218 to regulate the activities of small-scale miners. The PNDCL 218 was amended as Act 703, 2006 as the Minerals and Mining Law, which was an improvement over the previous law. In addition to the Minerals and Mining Law, the Government of Ghana established the Minerals Commission and the EPA under Acts 450 and 490 in 1993 and 1994, respectively. These agencies are mandated, under the law, to undertake the implementation of small-scale laws. To ascertain the progress of the implementation of the law, after almost a decade, the researchers set out to measure the effectiveness of the institutional framework in the implementation of the law using the following as parameters: the extent of reduction in illegal mining cases in the Municipality and the level of stakeholder involvement in the implementation process.
In the Bekwai Municipality, illegal mining appears to be still prevalent despite the implementation of the small-scale mining law. For instance, it was reported that the police in the Bekwai Municipality arrested a Chinese illegal miner who allegedly shot and wounded three Ghanaians with an AK-47 rifle. The suspect, Xia Gui Hang, was arrested by the police; the Chinese are said to have been embarking on illegal mining on the concessions of Finger Mining Company Limited—a small-scale mining company (Frimpong, 2013). Some respondents confirmed the continued presence of illegal mining in the Municipality by stating that
illegal mining can be found in communities such as Edwinase, Dotom, Pepedan, Dwomakro, Bogyawe, Kokotro; but among these communities, Koninyaw is the place where illegal mining continues to thrive most.
Given that one of the criteria in measuring institutional effectiveness is the output and goal accomplishment criteria (Etzioni, 1978), it can be said that the implementation of small-scale mining laws has been ineffective in the Bekwai Municipality considering the increasing cases of illegal mining in the Municipality.
Participants in the focus group discussion were of the view that while a Small-Scale Mining Committee exists in the District, implementation is ineffective given weak functioning of this Committee in the implementation process. Despite the law’s requirement, interpersonal conflicts and weak commitment on the part of some committee members weaken the operations of the Committee. A respondent commented that
stakeholder (members of the Small-Scale mining committee) engagement in the implementation of small scale mining laws in the Bekwai Municipality is not encouraging; this is because they do not come together and share ideas in order to prosecute defaulters of the law.
Given this situation, respondents reinforced the need for committee members to put the interests of the District first and work together to achieve implementation of small-scale mining laws in the District. The need for committee members to work together cannot be overemphasized as this is likely to improve consensus building, collaboration, and participation, which are essential to effective implementation of public policy.
Challenges in the Implementation of Small-Scale Mining Laws in the Bekwai Municipality
Policy implementation can be a painstaking and frustrating process; this is because policy implementation often faces a myriad of challenges ranging from the lack of adequate resources and logistics to conflict of interest of the actors involved in the implementation process. For policy implementation to be successful, it is important to identify the challenges, so that the relevant lessons can be learnt.
According to a key respondent from the Assembly, the institutions mandated to oversee the implementation of small-scale mining laws in the Bekwai Municipality lack the needed human and financial resources to effectively execute their duties. A respondent revealed that
some of the illegal miners operate in the night, and it is difficult to contact them on the field of operation and because of the lack of adequate human and financial resources, it becomes difficult in implementing the laws to the fullest.
A respondent from the EPA explained that
the Environmental Protection Agency is unable to embark on routine checks to ensure that miners comply with environmental regulations due to the inadequacy resources at their disposal.
In addition to the challenge of acquiring the needed resources to effectively implement small-scale mining laws in the Bekwai Municipality, a respondent from the Assembly reiterated the fact that
the major challenge hindering the effective implementation of the small-scale mining laws is the unwillingness of the local people to engage the Assembly as they believe they are the owners of the land and need no regulation.
Apart from these challenges mentioned, a respondent from the focus group discussion with miners mentioned that the difficulty in acquiring the small-scale mining license is also another challenge in the implementation of small-scale mining laws. The respondent indirectly commented that
a simple and straightforward procedure should also be followed in acquiring permits before commencing their operation.
In addition to the above, a respondent from Dotom indicated that another challenge to the implementation of small-scale mining laws is linked to its effects on farming activities, pollution of streams, and teenage pregnancy. The respondent said that
Small-scale mining has attracted majority of the youth; as a result of this, farming activities have gone down tremendously since the youth prefer to engage in small-scale mining, which offers them quick them quick money, than farming.
The respondent further explained that
also, the miners tend to impregnate the girls in the community because they are able to woo them with their money.
The respondent added that
more so, small-scale mining heavily pollutes the streams that provide water to majority of the community folks.
In light of these challenges, there is the need for government and its relevant agencies to step up their commitment to the implementation of small-scale mining laws in the Bekwai Municipality.
Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations
The effectiveness of the public administrative machinery in any jurisdiction is dependent on the effectiveness of policy implementation. In Ghana, the government has promulgated the Minerals and Mining Act 2006, Act 703, to guide the conduct and operation of small-scale mining laws. To effectively implement the small-scale mining law, some institutions such as the Minerals Commission and the EPA have been tasked to implement the small-scale mining law.
After nearly a decade of implementation of the small-scale mining law, the small-scale mining sector appears to be largely unregulated. This is evidenced by the increasing operations of illegal miners and the growing destruction of the environment. Using the case study technique, the study adopted the qualitative approach to contextually analyze the implementation of small-scale mining laws in the Bekwai Municipality.
Based on the data collected, the study concludes that small-scale mining has existed for 75 years in Bekwai, and it is most prevalent at Koniyaw—a community in the Bekwai Municipality. The study revealed that small-scale mining has both merits and demerits. Regarding the merits, the study concludes that small-scale mining is beneficial to households in the Municipality as it provides ready market for foodstuffs that are sold to miners; it enables some students to save money to pay their school fees, and it further provides employment to the majority of youth with low skills. However, children are not allowed to engage in this practice. In addition, small-scale mining in the Bekwai Municipality employs unsophisticated tools such as hammer, pick axe, and chisel in their operations.
In terms of challenges to the implementation of the small-scale mining law, the inadequacy of financial and human resources for the implementation agencies is a significant drawback to the implementation of small-scale mining laws. Also, the lack of cooperation on the part of both actors and landowners obstructs the smooth implementation of small-scale mining laws. Again, small-scale mining has negatively affected farming activities in the Municipality. The able-bodied young men who could have engaged in farming rather choose to undertake small-scale mining. The indiscriminate activities of illegal miners have also led to the pollution of other streams and rivers. Small-scale mining activities have culminated in teenage pregnancy as the miners with their quick-acquired income are able to woo the helpless young ladies.
For small-scale mining laws to be effectively implemented, the study makes the following recommendations.
The government should be committed to supporting the Bekwai Municipality with the needed financial and human resources to successfully implement the small-scale mining law in the Municipality. The funds that are needed for the implementation can also be supported by the internally generated funds from the Municipality. More so, there is the need for the agencies responsible for implementation to engage the local people by sensitizing them on the need to regularize small-scale mining and control the negative effects. As a measure of building the employment capacities of the youth in the Municipality, a career and skill development center should be established to train unemployed youth and prepare them for the future.
The authors are thankful to the participants for providing the data used in this study; they also express their gratitude to colleagues for the critical comments on the initial drafts of this article.
Declaration of Conflict of Interest The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Funding The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research and/or authorship of this article: This work was supported by the University of Ghana Business School.
- © The Author(s) 2016
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).
Kwame Asamoah is a senior lecturer in the Department of Public Administration and Health Services Management, University of Ghana Business School. His research areas include public policy implementation, public sector productivity, and diversity management in the civil service.
Alex Osei-Kojo is assistant lecturer in the Department of Public Administration and Health Services Management, University of Ghana Business School. His research interests include natural resource management, public policy implementation, and public management.