Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Science and Mathematics


Earth and Environmental Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Robert Taylor

Committee Member

Petra Tschakert

Committee Member

Chris Anderson

Committee Member

Chinnappa Jayachandran

Committee Member

Matthew Gorring


In 2012, the price of gold is sky rocketing due to strong demand and tight supply. Investors have revived their interest in gold investments at the expense of financial assets such as bonds and equities because of the current financial market turbulence. In addition, the trend in price has been fuelled by the strategic reserve holdings decisions by the central banks of advanced western economies to halt the sale of their gold reserves while that of emerging markets are acquiring gold holdings to protect their wealth during a period of global financial crisis. The supply of gold has not responded to this rising demand. Recent gold mine production has relied on lower grade ores, which have a record of significant negative environmental and social impacts and intense resource use. The lower grade ores have increased mining risk and precipitated a major challenge to the global sustainability of gold mining. The Gold mining industry has responded by utilizing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a means to demonstrate its voluntary moral and ethical ways of sustainable mineral development. The West African gold rich nation of Ghana is also experiencing these growing trends in other mineral-rich countries. This research describes the operationalization and effectiveness of the gold industry’s CSR from the global to the local level. A content analysis of corporate public reports was used to investigate the global level CSR practices of the top 10 global mining companies ranked according to their market capitalization. The study also examined the compatibility of the priorities of gold industry’s responsible gold mining themes with the concerns of local communities about responsible mineral development. At the local level, two content analyses were undertaken. The first was to study the public view of issues related to gold mining generated by 1,156 articles in both public and private newspapers available on the Ghanaweb database. The second content analysis investigates the new 2006 Minerals and Mining law of Ghana against the international best-practice standard for mineral investment and emerging best practices for sustainable mineral development. In addition, the contributions of one major gold mining company, Newmont Ghana Gold Limited NGGL programs/projects to sustainable development of the Ahafo mine local community was evaluated based on the seven questions to sustainability (7QS), a sustainable development measurement framework.

The results showed that, globally, mining companies were selective in their CSR disclosures, and they disclosed more qualitative information than quantitative information even though the latter is more objective and informative to stakeholders. Further, this work showed a divergence between the priorities of gold mining industry’s CSR themes and concerns of local communities about sustainable mineral development.

At the local level in Ghana, the content analysis of government-owned and privately-owned newspapers revealed 22 gold mining concerns of the five major stakeholders (government, gold mining industry, unlicensed/unregistered miners, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and communities). The analysis also showed differences between public and private newspapers in their prioritization of mining sustainability issues and growth in public interest about gold mining. Moreover, the analysis of the 2006 Minerals and Mining law of Ghana showed its compatibility with the international best practice for mineral investment but appears significantly incompatible with a proposed sustainable mineral development model. Hence, the new 2006 Minerals and Mining law of Ghana weakens communities but strengthens investors. Finally, the analysis of CSR activities by NGGL showed that their programs fulfilled local community needs, but there is the need for the implementation of natural resource protection and economic empowerment programs/projects for the long-term contributions to the sustainable development of the Ahafo mine local community.