Going for gold, going for ore: mining concessions and techniques of appropriation in Ghana
Robert Pijpers (University of Hamburg)
Sabine Luning (Leiden University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper proposes a three-dimensional approach to the study of mining operations. Whereas mining articulations have foremost been framed in a two-dimensional view, our 3D approach allows to see how different techniques of gold mining create room for manoeuvre to work out forms of co-habitation.
Paper long abstract:
Even though the study of gold mining and mining companies appears to be as booming as gold mining itself, certain crucial characteristics of mining operations do not obtain sufficient attention. The articulations between large scale and small-scale mining, and between mining and other forms of land use have foremost been framed in a two dimensional perspective. This paper proposes a spatial approach, which explicitly moves from a flat to a three-dimensional perspective: Different miners work different parts of deposits, at different depths, and rework the same ore in different ways. A three dimensional approach allows to see how the different techniques of gold mining create room for manoeuvre to work out forms of co-habitation. In many gold mining sites both industrial and artisanal mining occur side by side. Our 3D approach shows that the ways in which mining companies allow or prohibit artisanal mining on their concessions are informed by the geological situation and the different techniques that can be used to access specific parts of the orebody. Moreover, the paper stresses that the room for manoeuvre also depends upon the technical stage of a large scale operation; the options for co-habitation are different for exploration companies and majors with a producing mine. This paper draws upon a study of two concessions in Ghana, a country where the interactions between large scale and small scale miners are influenced by the world of politics; both the power holders in the national political arena and local chiefs affect mining arrangements.
Mining technology: practices, knowledge and materials across and beyond the mines