Student conference on mineral resource extraction big success

On 22 March, the first-year students of the ResMA African Studies organised a conference, titled “Digging Deeper: Mineral Resource Extraction in Africa” as part of the course Africa in Cross-Regional Perspectives. Bringing together their expertise and that of the guest speakers and various attendees allowed for varied and multidisciplinary discussions of the many dimensions of mineral resource extraction across the continent.

digging_deeper_1.jpgJan-Bart Gewald opened the day with a discussion of the various short- and long-term impacts of mining across Southern Africa. This discussion ranged from environmental pollution and the health of miners to the role of animals in mining towns. Staying in Southern Africa, Ivan Anderegg followed up with a look at the spiritual impact of the construction of the Kariba Dam and subsequent resettlement of people from the Zambezi valley on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Though highlighting the evolution of different types of spirit worship, Ivan illustrated how people adapted to cope with the alienation of the landscape and the new situations they found themselves in.


digging_deeper_3.jpgJeroen Cuvelier of Ghent University presented his recent work on the political dimension of cobalt extraction in the DRC. He linked his experiences in the region to theories of resource nationalism and how they do and do not apply to the situations he encountered.  Artemis Mantheakis followed this by looking at correlations between corruption scandals and changes in gold export volume, drawing on similar theories of resource nationalism and discussing the ontology of corruption.

digging_deeper_2.jpgBas van Dort of TU Delft wrapped up the day by expanding the conversation to the technical side. His presentation looked at the challenges posed by the massive increase in demand for, and extraction of, copper projected over the coming years. Referring back to the discussion of the impacts of mining which opened the conference highlighted the vital role of multidisciplinary approaches towards digging deeper and understanding the many dimensions of mineral resource extraction and its impacts.