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 pages16
JournalThe Journal of Development Studies
Volume56
Issue number10
Early online date24 Feb 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research was supported by a Leverhulme Trust Study Abroad Studentship under [grant number SAS-2016-047/7]; a research grant from the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ); and a research grant from the Expertise Centre on Mining Governance at the Catholic University of Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The author is grateful for comments received on earlier incarnations of this paper, which were presented at the 8th European Conference on African Studies and the 6th Conference of the Regulating for Decent Work Network, organised by the International Labour Organisation, in June and July 2019 respectively. The author would also like to thank Sara Geenen for her helpful comments on an earlier draft, as well as Andrew Fischer for discussions on Arthur Lewis and his continued guidance and support over the long journey that led to this article. For further detail on the construction of the productivity and wage data presented above, see Appendices B, C and G of Radley (2019a). The author will provide any of the original data on request.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development

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