2020 State of the ASM Sector Report Learn about artisanal and small-scale mining's contribution to Sustainable Development Goal 8 in our new report

The Persistence of Informality: Perspectives on the Future of Artisanal Mining in Liberia

Throughout most of the developing world, the artisanal and small-scale exploitation of high-value resources such as gold and diamonds, often takes place informally, without the proper legal authorization. Government officials often blame this informality on miners’ unwillingness to comply with legal requirements. However, the lack of government capacity to adequately enforce such legislation, and the question of whether or not that legislation is actually feasible, is rarely considered to be a relevant factor determining the level of informality of artisanal mining operations. Drawing on field research in Liberia, this paper argues that many artisanal miners are in fact operating at various stages of legality, through payment of informal taxes, and following informal agreements made with local government officials. This kind of informal taxation can be seen as a locally grounded formalization, benefiting both cash-strapped artisanal miners who are unable to pay the full fees required by the Mining Code, and underpaid government officials who are presented with an opportunity to supplement their incomes. While illegal in absolute terms, these practices raise important questions regarding the feasibility and legitimacy of the current Mining Code, and the ways in which this crucial economic activity should be regulated in the future.

Additional Info

Author(s)
S Van Bockstael
Publication Year
2014
Language
English
Data Source Classification
Academic Study
Research Type
Both
Research Methodology
Primary - OBSERVATION, Secondary - PREVIOUS RESEARCH, Primary - ANECDOTAL
Thematic Tags
Political, Formalization, Governance, Social, Community, Employment, Gender, Health and Safety, Labor and Working Conditions, Livelihoods
Minerals
Diamond, Gold
Region
Sub-Saharan Africa
Country
Liberia
Last Updated
June 3, 2021