Artisanal mining and the rationalisation of informality: critical reflections from Liberia

Roy Maconachie, Felix Marco Conteh

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Across sub-Saharan Africa, artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) represents a major source of direct and indirect employment. Yet, despite the livelihood benefits and the growing interest from governments, donors and policy makers to formalise ASM, most artisanal miners still operate informally. Focusing on Liberia, this article critically investigates the question of why formalisation efforts continue to fail and argues that the persistence of informality in the sector needs to first be understood as a rational strategy for those who profit from it. Only then can sustainable mining reforms be linked to broader national and international extractive sector policy frameworks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-449
Number of pages18
JournalCanadian Journal of Development Studies
Issue number3
Early online date7 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Africa Mining Vision
  • Artisanal mining
  • formalisation
  • informality
  • Liberia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development


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