The role of conflict minerals, artisanal mining, and informal trading networks in African intrastate and regional conflicts

Small Wars Journal
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Abstract

The relationship between natural resources and armed conflict gained public and political attention in the 1990s, when it became evident that the mining and trading of diamonds were connected with brutal rebellions in several African nations. Easily extracted resources such as alluvial diamonds and gold have been and continue to be exploited by rebel groups to fund their activities. Artisanal and small-scale miners operating under a quasi-legal status often mine these mineral deposits. While many African countries have legalized artisanal mining and established flow chains through which production is intended to travel, informal trading networks frequently emerge in which miners seek to evade taxes and fees by selling to unauthorized buyers. These networks have the potential to become international in scope, with actors operating in multiple countries. The lack of government control over the artisanal mining sector and the prominence of informal trade networks can have severe social, political, and economic consequences. In the past, mineral extraction fuelled violent civil wars in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Angola, and it continues to do so today in several other countries. The significant influence of the informal network that surrounds artisanal mining is therefore an important security concern that can extend across borders and have far-reaching impacts.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The role of conflict minerals, artisanal mining, and informal trading networks in African intrastate and regional conflicts
Series title Small Wars Journal
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Small Wars Foundation
Contributing office(s) Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center
Description 13 p.
Other Geospatial Africa
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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