Mining's connective and disruptive effects on human settlement in Africa

Deborah Bryceson (University of Edinburgh)
Kate Symons (University of Edinburgh)
Economy and Development
Room 16
Session slots:
Thursday 13 June, 16:15 - 18:00
Thursday 13 June, 17:55 - 19:40

Short abstract:

Over time, many African countries have witnessed mining booms followed by quiescence. Industrial & artisanal mining catalyse population agglomeration that disrupts locational settlement patterns to the benefit of some & detriment of others. This panel probes when, where & how this happens.

Long abstract:

Mining of non-renewable resources is associated with cycles of expectant discovery, mobilization of capital and labour for mineral extraction leading to peak production, followed by diminishing production to the point of cessation. The demographic size and economic and social forms of mining settlements are impacted by mineral depletion, fluctuations in global mineral prices, national and local politics, as well as numerous contextual specificities. Along the mining settlement cycle, a number of interactive connections and disruptions occur including: 1) speculative labour flows and market demand for land related to the initiation and progress of mining exploration creating 'economies of desire'; 2) mining's dislocative and stimulating impacts on rural settlements over the mining cycle; 3) urban growth from boom town to ghosts town or non-mineral take-off of the settlement; 4) changing social and economic character of settlement in relation to settlement: sex ratios, occupational patterns and class and ethnic reconfigurations. 5) aspects of indirect urbanization in the aftermath of mineral booms, when mining profits are invested in housing and businesses beyond the mining site. 6) The contentious divide between mine labourers' formal housing as opposed to residence in informal settlements Evolutionary case studies of a single location or analytical comparisons of settlement patterns in relation to differences exemplified by: forms of minerals, geographical regions, size of urban settlement, small versus large-scale mining, etc. are welcome.