Blazing the Path to Formalization, Ghana



Focus Area

Artisanal and Small-scale Mining



sustainable development goals


$189,860 CAD


Global Affairs Canada

Who Benefits

Direct and immediate beneficiaries
Ghana Minerals Commission
Small-scale miners
Mining communities in Ghana

Delivery Partners

University of Mining and Technology, Twarka
Diamond Development Initiative (DDI)

The Challenge

Despite high levels of risk, the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector provides important informal livelihoods to millions of people. However, these gains often come at a cost. Many newcomers to the sector are exploited by buyers and middlemen and become trapped in a cycle of borrowing and indebtedness. There is little official recognition of this exploitation and little done to break the cycle. It has been argued that formalization of ASM is the key to empowering unregistered miners and making the sector more sustainable.

Project Details

This project works to deepen current understanding of formal and informal financial flows in ASM communities. By recording and analyzing detailed financial dairies for 36 mining households in rural Ghana, the study will expose how formal and informal financial relations affect the livelihoods and well-being of poor individuals in Sub-Saharan Africa. The research will be shared with government officials to inform formalization and micro-financing models.

Cross-cutting Themes


  • Data will be gender disaggregated to allow analysis on gender-related trends. Financial policy recommendations will include consideration of the differential needs of each gender.


  • Financial flows mapping of ASM will include activity related to mercury and other harmful substances and inform policy recommendations for environmental-safeguarding.


  • The Ghana Minerals Commission (GMC) is the chief ASM policy-making body in Ghana. The project will inform the GMC’s development of services and policy for ASM formalization.

Results to Date

University of Mining and Technology (UMAT) researchers have been trained in the financial diary method and the target and mining households have been identified. Field data collection began in September 2016 and will continue for 12 months. Detailed financial field data is currently being collected on 36 miners/mining households in rural Ghana (12 each from Kobriso, Japa and Noyem). The data is collected at the household level and therefore includes individuals who play different roles across the ASM value chain. The principal researchers conducted engagement workshops in February 2017 in each community to help strengthen people’s understanding of the research. Data analysis will begin once the full data set is collected.

Intended Impact

This project will improve understanding of the formal and informal financial relations and flows in a typical ASM community. This can:

  • Inform improvements to financial extension services for ASM stakeholders
  • Improve decision-making regarding ASM formalization processes
  • Enable informed consideration of the needs of impoverished ASM families in development of poverty alleviation measures
  • Inform international policy engagement on improved financial mechanisms for ASM

project team


updates and news

CIRDI Facilitates Two Panels on Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining at IGF

Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is the focus of the 2017 AGM of the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF), held October 16-20 in Geneva. CIRDI […]

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