A Distributional Analysis of Artisanal and Industrial Wage Levels and Expenditure in the Congolese Mining Sector

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Abstract

Across low–income African countries, a process of foreign–controlled mining (re)industrialisation has been underway since the 1980s, gathering pace during the most recent decade. This paper aims to shed light on the long–term effects of this process on the strength and vibrancy of local mining economies. It does so through the analysis of original empirical data collected during 15 months of fieldwork at and around an industrial gold mine in South Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, centred on how the entry of industrial mining into pre-existing artisanal mining economies has affected the total volume of mining wages earned, consumed and invested locally. It is demonstrated that, despite generating a 25–fold increase in productivity, mining reindustrialisation in South Kivu has not resulted in significant wage growth for most industrial workers, compared to the wages earned in artisanal mining. In addition, as a result of the displacement of artisanal mining to more marginal deposits (and the inability of new industrial jobs or wages to compensate), seven years on, the local availability of mining employment has halved and the volume of locally consumed and invested mining wages has decreased by around 40 per cent. Drawing on the findings, the wisdom of current World Bank and African government mining policy is questioned.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1964-1979
Number of pages17
JournalThe Journal of Development Studies
Volume56
Issue number10
Early online date24 Feb 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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