The future of artisanal gold mining and miners under an increasing industrial presence in South Kivu and Ituri, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo
While the Congolese government is actively promoting large-scale industrial mining since it provides easy rents, artisanal mining seems to escape most attempts to control and regulate it. Yet artisanal mining provides employment and livelihoods to an estimated million people. This paper presents original research on artisanal gold miners in Province Orientale (Ituri district) and South Kivu. In both locations, the start of industrial gold mining operations threatens to displace artisanal mining from some of the areas where the soils and rocks have the highest gold concentrations. The research findings presented in this paper thus provide an understanding of artisanal miners’ perceptions on their work, income and livelihoods, at a time of transition, when local economies are shifting from purely artisanal production to a mix of industrial and artisanal production. They demonstrate that artisanal miners are strongly committed to their jobs and livelihoods. Even if they are displaced by industrial mining operations, artisanal miners are likely to remain within the sector, moving to new or existing mining sites. Thus, the success of state- or corporate-sponsored resettlement programs and alternative livelihood schemes may be affected by the desire of artisanal miners to retain their livelihood. While academics and policymakers debate whether industrial or artisanal mining can lead to long-term economic development, the survey results suggest that from the point of view of those engaged in artisanal mining, the artisanal livelihood is seen as more likely than large-scale mining to promote development, in part because it provides large numbers of relatively good-paying jobs.
|Date of creation:||Jun 2013|
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