The Influence of Geomorphology on the Role of Women at Artisanal and Small-Scale Mine Sites


Malpeli, Katherine C., and Peter G. Chirico. 2013. “The Influence of Geomorphology on the Role of Women at Artisanal and Small-Scale Mine Sites.” Natural Resources Forum 37: 43–54.

Authors: Katherine C. Malpeli, Peter G. Chirico


The geologic and geomorphic expressions of a mineral deposit determine its location, size, and accessibility, characteristics which in turn greatly influence the success of artisans mining the deposit. Despite this critical information, which can be garnered through studying the surficial physical expression of a deposit, the geologic and geomorphic sciences have been largely overlooked in artisanal mining-related research. This study demonstrates that a correlation exists between the roles of female miners at artisanal diamond and gold mining sites in western and central Africa and the physical expression of the deposits. Typically, women perform ore processing and ancillary roles at mine sites. On occasion, however, women participate in the extraction process itself. Women were found to participate in the extraction of ore only when a deposit had a thin overburden layer, thus rendering the mineralized ore more accessible. When deposits required a significant degree of manual labour to access the ore due to thick overburden layers, women were typically relegated to other roles. The identification of this link encourages the establishment of an alternative research avenue in which the physical and social sciences merge to better inform policymakers, so that the most appropriate artisanal mining assistance programs can be developed and implemented.

Keywords: artisanal mining, geomorphology, gender roles, Africa

Topics: Economies, Extractive Industries, Gender, Women, Gender Roles Regions: Africa, Central Africa, West Africa

Year: 2013

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