Beyond the doom: Sustainable water management practices of small-scale mining operations

Abstract

Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) is often implicated as a source of pollution to water systems. In this paper, we explore the water management systems of a formalised small-scale mining operator in Ghana to explicate how its operational activities and organising routines contribute to sustainable water management in practice. Emphasizing how sustainable management of water bodies play out in organising, our study highlights the underpinning mechanisms shaping the shift to environmentally sustainable operations. By unpacking the complex practices of water management in ASM operations, the study extends understanding of how sustainability driven practices emerge and comes to be identified and labelled in the context of an industry historically tagged as an ‘enemy of the environment’, and the consequences that follow. Thus, contrary to the dominant logic of stigmatizing ASM as water polluting champions, our study suggests that ASM operators could be caretakers of water bodies and the environment. We conclude by highlighting implications for policy on sustainable water management

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