Journal section on "conflict free" and "ethical" mineral supply chain systems

Goldmine, DRC ©Judith Verweijen (large view)

Goldmine, DRC ©Judith Verweijen

(17-03-2018) CRG research Steven van Bockstael guest edited a special section on mineral supply chain systems in the journal "The Extractive Industries & Society"

CRG researcher Steven van Bockstael edits special section in "The Extractive Industries & Society"

The CRG’s Steven Van Bockstael recently edited a special section of the journal “The Extractive Industries and Society”, on so-called “conflict-free”, “ethical” or “fair trade” mineral supply chain systems. The recent ‘ethical turn’ in consumption has also affected the mining sector, and both NGOs and industry actors are increasingly championing certified, closed mineral supply chains, of which the current blockchain hype is the most recent expression. A large number of organisations operating at different scales and in a range of geographical contexts have worked to improve transparency in the mining sector in a number of ways. These include the certification of mineral production as environmentally and socially responsible, free from linkages with armed conflict, and the empowerment of marginalized mine operators through a more direct connection between their activities and the imperatives of retail and manufacture.

Many of these supply chains are focused on eliminating reputational risk associated with artisanal and small-scale mining, especially in conflict-affected areas. The papers in this special section critically examine these claims, using field-work based research as a starting point to discuss a number of certification schemes in eastern DRC, as well as an attempt to introduce “fair trade” gold in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. A brief introduction was written by the editor, tracing the emergence of these schemes and suggesting an initial classification of this myriad of initiatives, and describing the pioneering role of the Kimberley Process for rough diamonds and the late 1990s ‘conflict diamond’ campaign. The introduction can be freely read for the next 50 days here