To Coerce, or Not To Coerce? Assessing Policy Strategies To Regulate Small-Scale And Artisanal Mining In the Andes


  • Zaraí Toledo Orozco
  • Katherine McKiernan



Facing the rapid proliferation of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) in the 2000s, states with commodity-dependent economies pursued different strategies to regulate the activity. While some states have chosen to co-operate — that is, they have included informal miners in policy enforcement processes — others have chosen to coerce; that is, they have used heavy-handed policies against informal miners. This article assesses the effectiveness of these strategies in increasing compliance. We leverage a view of policy effectiveness that considers the type of state-society relations a policy fosters. We look at how different state-society relations impact the relevance a policy has to the subject it attempts to regulate. We argue that although imperfect, co-operation helps the state overcome

its limitations on the knowledge of ASM and its limited institutional powers to enforce regulations alone. By learning about the activity in question and developing ties with the informal miners, the state can produce feasible regulation that is more likely to be followed. We build our theory using a parsimonious sequential game that highlights the relationship between the state and the informal miners. We illustrate the equilibrium by comparing the outcomes of the regulatory strategies pursued in Bolivia and Peru during the commodity boom of the 2000s.






Research Papers