Working Paper No 2 - Mining conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa: Actors and repertoires of contention
Bettina Engels – 2016
Industrial mining is currently one of the fastest growing sectors of the world economy, particularly in the Global South. The present mining boom is, however, accompanied by numerous conflicts: conflicts over labour relations, over territorial control and access to water and land resources, over the effects on local livelihoods, on gender relations and ecological systems, and over the distribution of profits and tax revenues. In this paper, a typology of mining conflicts is developed, starting with existing case studies of current conflicts over industrial mining in sub-Saharan Africa and building on my own research in Burkina Faso. In contrast to existing typologies, the one presented here is based not on the subjects of the conflicts but on actor constellations: conflicts between trade unions and mining companies; between civil society organisations on the one hand and the state and mining companies on the other; and between artisanal miners and mining companies. I argue that historically shaped socio-ecological and socio-economic conditions, namely the existing land usages, have a crucial effect on the actors and actor constellations in conflicts over mining, and that different actors have different means of engaging in conflict at their disposal, and thus rely on different repertoires of contention when engaging in collective conflicts.