Grounding institutions through informal practice: Credibility in artisanal mining of aggregates, Ghana

Niels Fold, Albert N.M. Allotey, Per Kalvig, Lasse Moeller-Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Artisanal mining is mainly carried out as an informal activity without a mining license, the payment of public fees or compliance with environmental and labour regulations. Although artisanal mining persists in most African countries, efforts by public authorities to formalize such activities have encountered numerous problems. This paper uses the Credibility Thesis to explain the persistence of the artisanal mining of aggregates in the Accra metropolitan area in Ghana. Aggregates are used in the construction of houses, and several artisanal quarries supply the highly fluctuating and unpredictable demand from individual house-owners. We identify complex but relatively stable endogenous ways of organising artisanal production and marketing in five quarries at different stages of consolidation and liquidation: sites are initially exploited but then gradually transformed into waste dumps or new residential areas by landowners as part of an expanding urbanization process. Artisanal miners are evicted, but as demand continues and alternative supplies are not present, new sites are opened, only to go through a similar sequence. However, practices are replicated, and credible (informal) institutions are transferred through time and space due to their functional endurance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)922-931
Number of pages10
JournalLand Use Policy
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Artisanal mining
  • Credibility Thesis
  • Endogeneity
  • Ghana
  • Informal activity

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 4: Mineral Resources


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