Study Report on Resource Extraction and Sustainable Development of Mine-take Communities in Ghana

Mining is an important economic activity for many developing countries, especially mineral-rich countries whose economic activities are largely natural resources dependent. The mining sector plays a significant role in revenue generation, local infrastructure and economic development, employment generation as well as livelihood improvement in many resource dependent countries. Due to the importance of mining, the last few decades have witnessed a dramatic growth in mineral prospecting and development, particularly, across the developing world. Meanwhile, mining is generally perceived as destructive, and a usurpation of communal resources for corporate and individual benefits. There are polarized views about the benefits and burdens of mining to mine-take communities. For many an observer, mining is bad for development. Mines have often been associated with appalling labour conditions, unequal distribution of wealth and unsustainable patterns of development and growth. There has therefore been the need to conduct empirical studies to truly unpack the connections between natural resource extraction and the development of mine-take communities, particularly in the wake of ‘resource curse’, ‘Dutch-disease’ and ‘rentier state’ discourses. Generally, however, such studies have tended to focus on resource rich areas in the global north to the neglect of resource rich areas in the global south. However, given Ghana’s stable democracy, its enviable position as currently the largest producer of gold on the continent, where mining is described as an ancient industrial activity, it is important for studies like this to understand how our democratic institutions are helping us navigate the resource curse or otherwise. This study is therefore one attempt by Good Governance Africa to unpack this rather contested and ambiguous territory, particularly as it relates to African communities, using the Ahafo area, where Newmont Goldcorp operates a major concession as a case. The choice was grounded on the fact that the Ahafo area, and Newmont’s operations have received commendable reviews from sustainability watchers to warrant an empirical assessment. The lessons may be relevant for other industry actors and national policy makers, if they are proven to be sustainable and enduring.