Ethical Innovation and Formalization: The Case of Small-Scale Gold Mining in West Africa
Start dateFebruary 2023
End dateMarch 2023
This ESRC IAA Impact Exploration Fund project seeks to stimulate innovation and support for artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) – low-tech, labour-intensive mineral extraction and processing – in sub-Saharan Africa.
Working collaboratively with the World Bank and United Nations in Ghana and Mali, the locations of two of the more sizable ASM economies in the region, the project aims to facilitate entry of the Goldstrom Group, a vertically integrated gold-buying company, into both countries.
The intention is to catalyse working partnerships between Goldstrom and local ASM groups, with a view toward catalysing support for the latter and ultimately, creating opportunities to improve local quality of life.
ASM is widely recognised as the region’s most important rural non-farm activity, providing direct employment to tens of millions of men and women; jump-starting a series of downstream and upstream activities which engage millions more; and generates income used to sustain family farms, bolstering food security at the local level, and to assist with the payment of children’s school fees.
These are all societal impacts that routinely get overlooked by policymakers because over 95% of activities are carried out informally. Mali and Ghana are the largest and most dynamic ASM economies in sub-Saharan Africa and provide a blueprint for overcoming these barriers. This impact project hopes to identify routes for the Goldstrom Group, an integrated precious minerals sourcing group, to establish its presence as a purchaser of gold, within couloirs in Mali and territories covered by the CMS in Ghana. Dialogues have also been initiated with the World Bank and UNDP about fostering a collaborative culture.
Professor Gavin Hilson
Professor and Chair of Sustainability in Business
Gavin is a leading global authority on the environmental and social impacts of the small-scale mining sector. He has published over 300 journal articles, book chapters and reports on the subject, his specialist knowledge widely recognized internationally. He has delivered talks on small-scale mining at United Nations headquarters in New York, the World Bank in Washington DC and several universities worldwide. He has also provided consultancy services on the subject for a range of organizations: the UK Department for International Development, World Bank and EGMONT (Royal Institute for International Relations in Brussels); the NGO sector, including the Alliance for Responsible Mining and the WWF Guianas; and corporations such as Newmont Gold Mining and Gold Fields.Gavin is editor-in-chief of The Extractive Industries and Society (Elsevier Science), and is on the editorial boards of The Journal of Cleaner Production (Elsevier Science), Resources Policy (Elsevier Science), Mineral Economics (Springer) and The International Journal of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Environment (Taylor & Francis). He was also an inaugural executive board member (2006) of the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI), an NGO established to improve awareness and eliminate circulation of 'conflict diamonds', stepping down in 2019. Since this time, he has served on as an Executive Board Member for the Ottawa-based NGO, IMPACT.
He received Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the University of Toronto, and his PhD from the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine. His first academic post was at Cardiff University, where he held the post, Lecturer in Environmental Policy, in the School of City and Regional Planning. Following this appointment, he moved to the Institute of Development Policy and Management (IDPM), the University of Manchester, where he held the post of Lecturer in Environment and Development. In 2007, he moved to the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, The University of Reading, taking up a permanent lectureship in Environment and Development. He was promoted to Reader in 2009.
Editor-in-Chief, The Extractive Industries and Society
The Extractive Industries and Society is the one journal devoted to disseminating in-depth analysis of the socio-economic and environmental impacts of mining and oil and gas production on societies, both past and present. It provides a platform for the exchange of ideas on a wide range of issues and debates on the extractive industries and development, bringing together research undertaken by an interdisciplinary group of social scientists in academia, government, the NGO community and industry. Topics covered by the journal include environmental management at mines and rigs; Corporate Social Responsibility and community development; the environmental and social impacts of artisanal and small-scale mining in developing countries; corruption and the extractive industries; industry reform; the donor community and the extractive industries; climate change and fossil fuel extraction; and taxation and foreign direct investment in the sector. Submissions which draw upon experiences from both developed and developing countries are invited from across the social sciences. The journal publishes original research articles, field reports, critical reviews, conference reports, book reviews and short correspondences. For more information, including 'Instructions for Authors', please visit the journal website at www.journals.elsevier.com/the-extractive-industries-and-society/.
Mr Will Cook, Global Head of Operations, Goldstrom Group
Mr Ken Davis, Senior Programme Officer, United Nations Development Programme
Ms Patricia Nsimire Ndagano, Mining Officer, World Bank
The project will generate the following outputs:
- Detailed profiles of at least 10 cooperatives at both Nwinso and Koulikoro. The Goldstrom Group is interested in cultivating relationships with these miners, which the Surrey team is in a unique position to facilitate.
- A detailed ‘map’ of the ASM ecosystem at Nwinso and Koulikoro. Goldstrom, the World Bank and UNDP are interested in having a detailed overview of the different actors present on site and the relationships the 10 groups of studied miners have with them.
- A detailed inventory of financial services available to miners at both sites. The donors and Goldstrom are interested in knowing what financial services and packages are available locally to support miners in Nwinso and Koulikoro and potentially, further afield.
- A training report produced based on engagements at both sites. The team will provide training, as indicated, at Koulikoro and Nwinso.
- A presentation of findings at UNDP Headquarters in Geneva. The PI, along with a Malian partner, will present findings to UNDP staff, with whom the team has been engaging with over the past five years, in Geneva.
- An open-access journal paper submitted to the international journal World Development, and short reports from this paper made available through the DELVE platform, (https://delvedatabase.org/), a site established specifically by the World Bank to share data and case study analysis on ASM.
The work will form the first phase of a two-part project aimed at generating knowledge for the Goldstrom Group and other international parties interested in sourcing gold from ASM communities in sub-Saharan Africa through arrangements that are fair and capable of delivering positive change to the livelihoods of operators. Data will be uncovered to ensure the sustainability of the CMS and couloirs ASM formalization models in Ghana and Mali.
The teams will deliver presentations to Goldstrom and the UNDP on the cooperatives engaged and the other findings collected. The organizations will be asked to identify potential groups at each site that could feature in a pilot gold buying scheme which is the planned centrepiece of the second phase of this project, post-April 2023.
Future impact will include a grant application with Dr Stelvia Mathos at Surrey, which will explore informal innovation strategies at ASM sites in Ghana, Mali and Brazil, working with partners at the University of Sao Paulo. The intention is to share experiences, with a view to identifying ways in which to facilitate innovation, on formalization platforms, within the three countries.