The economics of small-scale mining of precious minerals in Ghana

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Since 1990, Small-Scale Mining (SSM) of gold and diamonds has made significant contribution to the economy of Ghana and has offered jobs to many unemployed people including 2500 retrenched workers from some of the old established large-scale mines. Improvements in Ghanaian SSM have been and will continue to be made for the following reasons: a considerable area of land for gold and diamond mining is available; favourable investment climate exists in Ghana; markets for the precious minerals are available; technical services are available from several established small-scale mining centres; and both skilled and unskilled labours are available. Unfortunately, despite these favourable conditions and contributions, several small-scale mines have folded up in recent years due to economic and organisation problems. The application of some basic economic principles will go a long way towards removing some of the pitfalls associated with SSM and make their operations more efficient from economic and technical points of view. In this thesis, the nature and economics of SSM in Ghana have been described. It has also analysed the economic problems of their operation. Subsequently, preferred strategies and guidelines to improve and sustain the gains of SSM of precious minerals in Ghana have been provided.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Mining Engineering, 1996