Artisinal mining is a vital economic activity in the town of Kalima in the DRC, dominating the town as industrial mining did for decades under colonial rule. This paper describes the complex relationship between mining and the town itself, as well as with the central government and neighbouring countries. The key finding of the study on which the paper is based is that artisanal mining not only generates higher output than industrial mining ever did, but is also better for the mass of people in Kalima in terms of employment, income, working conditions and gender equity. It further suggests that the environmental impacts of artisanal mining, except for the craziness of mineral ores being flown out by plane, are gentler than those of industrial mining. Further, while tax revenues may be lower than if the deposits were mined industrially, this is shown to be largely because of inadequacies in the Congolese tax regime, which require urgent reform. Finally, while a prevalent view of mining in the DRC links it with violent armed conflict, mining in the Maniema province in which Kalima is located has not resulted in fighting, nor does it seem to be used by militias or warlords to fund their military activities. The case of Kalima illustrates that if there is such a link it is not straightforward to understand or predict
This paper was commissioned by the ISS Corruption & Governance Programme (Cape Town) as part of a research project on natural resource exploitation in Africa. For further information contact the ISS Cape Town office.