« Qui ne risque rien, n’a rien »: Conflict, distributional outcomes, and property rights in the copper- and cobalt-mining sector of the DRC

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    Abstract

    The Democratic Republic of Congo is rich in the copper and cobalt in high demand on the world market. In southeastern DRC, large-scale mining (LSM) has a long history, with a resurgence following the end of civil war in 2003. This revival of LSM investment resulted in the displacement of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) by companies. These dynamics are sometimes conceptualised in academic literature and policymaking as resulting in constant conflict between LSM companies and artisanal miners, yet there is variation in conflict. I link this variation to the interactions between three key facets of the property rights (PR) regime at and around LSM sites, which I call corporate enforcement, authorised clandestine extraction, and unauthorised clandestine extraction. Clandestine mining persists as outside actors push into LSM concessions. The security forces use coercive tactics to try to “close” LSM sites to unpaid access by artisanal miners. Conflict erupts when the cost of providing property rights and enforcing informal agreements becomes too high for security guards whose employment is at risk, and for companies with reputational concerns. The interactions of the different facets also have consequences for resource distribution among groups including women, different categories of traders, and ethnic communities. Therefore, corporate property rights are negotiated and contested: the security forces and government actors define and enforce other PR in contexts of “illegality”. These findings help explain why artisanal miners frequently operate peacefully at LSM sites. My findings have relevance for other African countries where artisanal miners operate “illegally”.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Groningen
    Supervisors/Advisors
    • de Wilde, Jaap, Supervisor
    • Daudelin, J., Supervisor, External person
    • Hönke, Jana, Supervisor
    • Rubbers, B., Assessment committee, External person
    • Vlassenroot, K., Assessment committee, External person
    • Rowlands, D., Assessment committee, External person
    • Vanclay, Frank, Assessment committee
    Award date23-Jan-2020
    Place of Publication[Groningen]
    Publisher
    Print ISBNs978-94-034-2328-9
    Electronic ISBNs978-94-034-2329-6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

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