Ban mining, ban dining? Re(examining) the policy and practice of ‘militarised conservationism’ on ASM operations

George Ofosu*, Daniel Siaw, David Sarpong, Stephen Danquah

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) frontier continues to advance in most mineral-endowed countries due to rising unemployment and general economic decline particularly in rural communities. The sector, however, is often viewed in a negative light because it is highly environmentally destructive. In seeking to address the environmental challenges, many governments have, on occasion, actioned military strategies aimed at presenting facets of ‘sanitisation’ to a highly informal industry that has historically been tagged as an enemy of the environment. This study examines such ‘mining vs. environment’ discourses that have resulted in military crackdowns on ASM operations in parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Overall, the findings bust the ‘myth’ of the appropriateness of military interventions regarding ASM operations. Offering insights into the livelihood dimensions of ASM operations, we submit that our understanding of mining-ban failures can be assisted by an understanding of the broader geographical, socio-economic, technological, and institutional antecedents that combine to allow illegal mining operations to proliferate.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101432
Number of pages8
JournalExtractive Industries and Society
Early online date16 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Crown Copyright © 2024. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license


  • Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM)
  • Environmental governance
  • Militarisation
  • Livelihoods


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