Africa is a resource-rich continent, holding 30 per cent of the world’s mineral reserves. Broadly speaking, these reserves are underexploited. Only about 5.4 per cent of the total global mineral raw material production takes place in Africa.1 However, the level of exploitation differs from country to country and mineral to mineral.
After countries on the continent gained their freedom, and with advancements in prospecting, exploration and extraction techniques, mining has picked up in recent decades. In many countries, it has become an important component of and contributor to the economy. Mining activities have spread to hitherto unexploited areas or expanded exponentially in traditional mining areas. This has, inevitably, led to environmental degradation, and eviction and migration of people from their homes, as access to natural resources is cut off, or it becomes untenable for them to stay in an area where environment has been degraded substantially, or government or private mining companies force them to leave. The consequences are severe for vulnerable, marginalized and landless communities that are majorly dependent on forests, agriculture and land-related activities.