Critical variability in small-scale mining actors and practices remain essentialized.One-day catalog highlights varying mining team organization and diverse technologies.Study demonstrates the heterogeneity of small-scale mining practices.Reflects need for greater attention to particular socio-technical dimensions of SSM.
The past decade of booming gold prices profoundly expanded small-scale mining (SSM) around the globe, with an estimated 25 million miners now participating in this industry. Despite increasing acknowledgement of the diverse actors and technologies involved in SSM operations, critical variability in SSM mining populations remains subsumed within an essential category of poverty-driven, labor-intensive activities undertaken by uneducated, iterant populations in rural areas of developing nations. Likewise, the technologies and environmental practices employed by miners at finer scales in SSM assemblages warrant further characterization. This paper therefore examines the socio-techno dimensions of SSM in Ghana, drawing upon fieldwork conducted in 20122013 in central Ghana. A one-day catalogue of SSM operations within a 1-km radius of a community highlights the varying organization of mining teams and deployment of diverse technologies in a particular socio-ecological context. This work demonstrates the heterogeneity of small-scale mining practices, reflecting the need for greater attention to the complex organizational and technological dimensions of SSM in evaluating the nature and implications of this industry.
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