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Research Shows Social Impacts of Gold Mining in Ghana

A University of Alberta study shows that the Structural Adjustment Program that was implemented in developing countries has changed the relationship between foreign mining companies and the communities in which they mine, at times resulting in strife.

The study, Community—company relations in gold mining in Ghana, examined the impacts of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s Structural Adjustment Program, which required reduced government functions, free-market policies and privatization in developing countries.

According to researcher Theresa Garvin, that resulted at times in considerable social conflicts in Ghana and at least three other African countries.

Garvin says the retrenchment of government investments during the past 15 years created a vacuum and has resulted in foreign mining companies being seen as surrogate regional government entities.

“The ordinary people in our research project stopped looking to the government for delivering basic social services and began looking to the companies. They saw the companies in a quasi-governmental capacity, and therefore had expectations that the companies didn’t feel was their moral obligation to meet,” Marvin says “So what resulted in Ghana, and at least three other African countries, were at times considerable social conflicts.”

The Structural Adjustment Program was designed to assist the economies of developing countries. As a result of the program, many developing countries have experienced an increase in resource extraction activities by international corporations, the report said.

“There is fairly strong evidence that the Structural Adjustment Program was not felt evenly across social classes, regardless of whether it was in Latin America or Africa. The program was harder on some social groups than others,” Garvin said. “And the communities we dealt with in this particular study were very poor rural communities who felt the program quite strongly.”

For more information, please contact:

Theresa D. Garvin
Director of Community, Health and Environment Research Centre
Associate professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
University of Alberta
Phone: 780-492-4593

Michael Davies-Venn | Newswise Science News
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