This Mine is Mine! How Minerals Fuel Conflicts in Africa

64 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2014

See all articles by Nicolas Berman

Nicolas Berman

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID)

Mathieu Couttenier

University of Lausanne - DEEP

Dominic Rohner

University of Zurich

Mathias Thoenig

University of Lausanne

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 2014

Abstract

This paper studies empirically the impact of mining on conflicts in Africa. Using novel data, we combine geo-referenced information over the 1997-2010 period on the location and characteristics of violent events and mining extraction of 27 minerals. Working with a grid covering all African countries at a spatial resolution of 0.5x0.5 degree, we find a sizeable impact of mining activity on the probability/intensity of conflict at the local level. This is both true for low-level violence (riots, protests), as well as for organized violence (battles). Our main identification strategy exploits exogenous variations in the minerals' world prices; however the results are robust to various alternative strategies, both in the cross-section and panel dimensions. Our estimates suggest that the historical rise in mineral prices observed over the period has contributed to up to 21 percent of the average country-level violence in Africa. The second part of the paper investigates whether minerals, by increasing the financial capacities of fighting groups, contribute to diffuse violence over time and space, therefore affecting the intensity and duration of wars. We find direct evidence that the appropriation of a mining area by a group increases the probability that this group perpetrates future violence elsewhere. This is consistent with "feasibility" theories of conflict. We also find that secessionist insurgencies are more likely in mining areas, which is in line with recent theories of secessionist conflict.

Keywords: conflict, minerals, mines, natural resources, rebellion

JEL Classification: C23, D74, Q34

Suggested Citation

Berman, Nicolas and Couttenier, Mathieu and Rohner, Dominic and Thoenig, Mathias, This Mine is Mine! How Minerals Fuel Conflicts in Africa (August 2014). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP10089. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2501563

Nicolas Berman (Contact Author)

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) ( email )

PO Box 136
Geneva, CH-1211
Switzerland

Mathieu Couttenier

University of Lausanne - DEEP ( email )

Université de Lausanne
Quartier UNIL-Dorigny
Lausanne, 1004
Switzerland

Dominic Rohner

University of Zurich ( email )

Muehlebachstrasse 86
Zurich, 8008
Switzerland

Mathias Thoenig

University of Lausanne ( email )

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