"Why Can't I Find It?": Mining Transparency in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Sophia Fortmeyer University of Kansas
Keywords: mining, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Immanuel Wallerstein, world-systems theory


This research focuses on foreign intervention in the mining sectors of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), concentrating on the transparency of agreements and regulation, or lack thereof, which contributes to the sustainability of mining practices and the livelihoods of local citizens. The current state of public information regarding natural resource extraction in both countries creates questions about state motives and investors’ incentives, with consequences of inequality, human rights offenses, and underdevelopment. Applying Immanuel Wallerstein’s world-systems theory, I describe the economic rationale behind global involvement in the region’s mining operations and identify potential power imbalances. I use commodity statistics, state documentation, and nongovernmental reports to analyze reporting trends on mining operations. Intergovernmental databases with development statistics also contribute to the research. In this study, I argue foreign intervention in underdeveloped, mineral-rich countries does not have to be a purely exploitative relationship as emphasized by Wallerstein’s theory, which can be demonstrated through the implementation of international transparency initiatives. These programs, employed to benefit resource-abundant countries like Zambia and the DRC, can increase corporate and government accountability related to mining activities. Complete reporting on natural resource extraction increases investment values and the development and productivity of the mining industry.

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