The processes of industrial gold mining and inequality: a Ghanaian case study
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The research examined how inequality manifests itself through the processes of industrial gold mining using a case study of Newmont Mining Corporations’ Ahafo Gold Mine in Ghana. The pursuit of neoliberal development and widespread transnational capitalism has led to highly globalised patterns of production and consumption, and gold is representative of a single commodity whose production acts as a proximate mechanism through which globalisation could be linked to the growth of inequality. There are growing perceptions of inequality between stakeholders within the industrial gold mining industry. The research focused on what may be deemed a number of social and environmental injustices experienced by groups of individuals who do not value gold as it is valued in the contemporary industrialised world. The findings question the underlying motivations and assumptions that justify the implementation of industrial gold mining projects for the benefit of local communities, when in fact, it should be acknowledged that the benefits are not always equitably distributed and can produce highly stratified societies. The main grievances expressed by local communities affected by the operations of Newmont Mining Corporation in Ghana are documented and attempts are made to understand the perspectives of different stakeholders in framing social and environmental issues. The empirical observations help to identify where perceptions of inequality emerge and to uncover the processes through which inequality may be constructed or perpetuated within systems of embedded power relations. Various changes occur in stakeholders’ expectations and aspirations during the processes of industrial gold mining related to the transfer of power and sovereignty. Newmont’s CSR programmes may be understood as efforts to manage inequalities. However, in many ways, the company has failed to prevent the emergence of the same environmental and social injustices associated with industrial mining around the world, despite the company’s claims to be implementing ‘best practice’. Therefore, the research suggests that socially responsible mining may not be enough to prevent the production of inequality.