Blessing and curse: understanding the social impact of Chinese mining in Africa – by Heidi Vella (Mining Technology – January 18, 2018)

A new report by the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) attempts to determine the social impacts of Chinese mining operations in Africa.

The study, which found both positives and negatives, once again highlights the need for African nation states to benefit more from their own natural resources. Heidi Vella, speaking to the report co-author and other industry experts, investigates the challenges.

Around half of China’s total out-bound investments from 2005 to 2016 went into the energy and mining sectors of foreign countries. Sub-Saharan countries, such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), attracted approximately one-third of these funds.

However, China has been earning a bad reputation for its operations in Africa’s extractive industries. Some of the accusations include illegal mining in Ghana, corruption in Angola, Guinea and other countries, environmental degradation in Chad, and poor working conditions overall.

Furthermore, the number of Chinese migrants, many of whom arrive as employees from state-owned extractive firms, displacing local people from jobs, has grown significantly over the last decade. As such, reports of anti-Chinese sentiments on the continent is growing.

To find out more about the impact China has on African nation states, the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) decided to investigate.

Its report titled ‘At Africa’s Expense? Disaggregating the Social Impact of Chinese Mining Operations’ analyses the period between 1997 and 2014. It studies novel data on the control rights regimes of diamond, gold and copper mines and geo-referenced information from Afrobarometer surveys, a pan-African series of national public attitude surveys on democracy, governance and society in Sub-Saharan African countries.

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