Artisanal copper mining and conflict at the intersection of property rights and corporate strategies in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Sarah Katz-Lavigne*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    Since 2002, the mining sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been liberalised and the Congolese government has allocated many formerly state-owned mining concessions in the provinces of Haut-Katanga and Lualaba to large-scale mining (LSM) companies. This paper examines the causes of conflict at LSM sites in Haut-Katanga and Lualaba. Conflict dynamics do not fall neatly along the lines of diverging interests between artisanal miners and companies. An adapted property rights approach helps make sense of the multiple components of the property rights regime. Interviews and mine site observation from August-December 2016 and January-May 2017 revealed the existence of at least three, at times competing, parts of a plural mineral rights regime: a corporate component; an "authorised" system for artisanal extraction; and an "unauthorised" element. These components constitute a plural regime in which different claims are defined and enforced to different degrees and at different times, and provide a preliminary explanation for conflict incidence. The at times contradictory nature of these systems of extraction leads to inherent instability but also, frequently, non-conflictual encounters. The piece also discusses the distributional impact of the interaction between the different components of the mineral rights regime, and policy implications.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)399-406
    Number of pages8
    JournalThe Extractive Industries and Society
    Issue number2
    Early online date13-Dec-2018
    Publication statusPublished - Apr-2019


    • Artisanal mining
    • Conflict
    • Property
    • Rights
    • Democratic Republic of Congo
    • Large-scale mining

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