Chinese mining in Africa and its global controversy

Barry Sautman, Yan Hairong

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingChapter in an edited book (as author)Academic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Chinese mining in Africa has been widely misconceived in terms of scale and characteristics. Based on research and fieldwork in Zambia’s Copper-Cobalt Belt from 2007 to 2015, we find that Chinese mining firms in Africa exploit resources and labor in much the same way that non-Chinese companies do. Chinese firms have distinctive features, however. We dispute the centerpiece of the discourse on Chinese mining in Africa, a 2011 report on Chinese copper mining in Zambia by Human Rights Watch, and show the report is empirically inaccurate and conceptually flawed. Chinese mining in Africa is not what Human Rights Watch claims it to be, but that does not mean that all is well. Fundamental problems exist and pertain to mining generally and mining in Africa specifically. Our 2014 survey of mine workers in Zambia found that the overwhelming majority see national ownership of mining assets as beneficial for overall development in Zambia and for the livelihood of mineworkers.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAfrica's Mineral Fortune
Subtitle of host publicationThe Science and Politics of Mining and Sustainable Development
PublisherTaylor and Francis - Balkema
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780429884597
ISBN (Print)9781138606920
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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