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Chair for Sociology in Africa - Prof. Dr. Jana Hönke

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« Qui ne risque rien, n’a rien »: Conflict, Distributional Outcomes, and Property Rights in the Copper- and Cobalt-Mining Sector of the DRC

PhD research project led by Sarah Katz-Lavigne and supervised by Dr. Jana Hönke (University of Bayreuth) and Professor Jean Daudelin (Carleton University). Completed 23 January 2020.

Summary: 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. This variation can be linked to the interactions between three key facets of the property rights (PR) regime at and around LSM sites: 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, including when security guards' employment, or companies' reputations, are at risk. 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 and other actors define and enforce other PR in contexts of "illegality". These findings help explain why artisanal miners frequently operate at LSM sites. The findings have relevance for other African countries where artisanal miners operate "illegally".

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