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A dangerous bet: The challenges of formalizing artisanal mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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  • Geenen, Sara

Abstract

Among policy-makers and governments, there is a broad consensus that artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) needs to be ‘formalized’ – embodied in a standardized legal framework that is registered in and governed by a central state system-, the basic condition being that artisanal miners are given formal property rights. This article aims to contribute to this discussion, drawing on a case study from the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where it is estimated that up to 90 percent of mineral production and export is ‘informal’. After having pointed out some of the theoretical assumptions behind the formalization canon, we study the challenges of formalizing the mining sector in the DRC. Next, we provide an in-depth analysis of one concrete policy measure of the Congolese government, the temporary ban on all artisanal activities. We argue that the mining ban was not only a radical example of a top-down formalization policy, but also an illustration of a bureaucratic and technical measure that compounds but does not address different problems associated with ASM: conflict, informality, poverty, illegality, state control. Looking at the empirical evidence from the DRC, we argue that these kinds of technical solutions can never address the broader socio-economic and political issues at stake.

Suggested Citation

  • Geenen, Sara, 2012. "A dangerous bet: The challenges of formalizing artisanal mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 322-330.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jrpoli:v:37:y:2012:i:3:p:322-330
    DOI: 10.1016/j.resourpol.2012.02.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Boris Verbrugge, 2015. "The Economic Logic of Persistent Informality: Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining in the Southern Philippines," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 46(5), pages 1023-1046, September.
    2. Verbrugge, Boris & Besmanos, Beverly, 2016. "Formalizing artisanal and small-scale mining: Whither the workforce?," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 134-141.
    3. Diemel, J.A. & Cuvelier, J., 2015. "Explaining the uneven distribution of conflict-mineral policy implementation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: The role of the Katanga policy network (2009–2011)," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(P2), pages 151-160.
    4. Saldarriaga-Isaza, Adrián & Villegas-Palacio, Clara & Arango, Santiago, 2015. "Phasing out mercury through collective action in artisanal gold mining: Evidence from a framed field experiment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 406-415.
    5. Bodenheimer, Miriam, 2014. "Certifying improvement, improving certification: An analysis based on the artisanal and small-scale mining sector," Working Papers "Sustainability and Innovation" S9/2014, Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI).
    6. repec:eee:jrpoli:v:53:y:2017:i:c:p:356-368 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Smith, Nicole M. & Smith, Jessica M. & John, Zira Q. & Teschner, Benjamin A., 2017. "Promises and perceptions in the Guianas: The making of an artisanal and small-scale mining reserve," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 49-56.
    8. Dominic P. Parker & Jeremy D. Foltz & David Elsea, 2016. "Unintended consequences of economic sanctions for human rights Conflict minerals and infant mortality in the Democratic Republic of the Congo," WIDER Working Paper Series 124, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    9. Geenen, Sara, 2014. "Dispossession, displacement and resistance: Artisanal miners in a gold concession in South-Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 90-99.
    10. de Haan, Jorden & Geenen, Sara, 2015. "Mining cooperatives in South Kivu: saviour or extortionist?," IOB Analyses & Policy Briefs 14, Universiteit Antwerpen, Institute of Development Policy (IOB).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Artisanal mining; Informal economy; Political economy; Formalization; Property rights; Democratic Republic of Congo;

    JEL classification:

    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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