Chinese participation in Ghana's informal gold mining economy: Drivers, implications and clarifications

Gavin Hilson, Abigail Hilson, Eunice Adu-Darko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper brings some clarity to the debate on Chinese participation in Ghana's artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector. Over the past decade, tens of thousands of Chinese nationals have migrated to rural Ghana, where they have proceeded to extract gold, for the most part undeterred, illicitly. The perceived impacts of this migration have captured the interest of the global public and attracted considerable media attention. The Government of Ghana has responded, albeit rather pedestrianly, to mounting concerns by assembling a National Task Force to ‘flush out’ illegal miners. It is argued here, however, that this will only provide short-term relief because the issue being tackled – growing Chinese participation in ASM – is the latest ‘expression’ of a much bigger problem: namely the sector's perpetual informality, brought about by an excessively-bureaucratic legalization process and failure, on the part of the government and donors, to deliver adequate and appropriate support to desperate operators. The key to reducing the inflow of Chinese migrants to Ghana's mining regions is adequately addressing the root causes of this informality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-303
Number of pages12
Early online date31 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • Chinese investment
  • Poverty
  • Small-scale mining
  • Gold
  • Informal economy

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