Reforming artisanal mining has a pivotal role in breaking the linkages between mining and conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo. One specific measure has been the creation of mining cooperatives meant to represent mineworkers in their interaction with mining companies. This ethnographic study undertaken in 2013/2014 in northern Katanga examined how cooperatives function and interact with existing institutions and ‘big men’ involved in the mining business. We found that cooperatives were top-down creations that overlooked the influence of ‘big men’ in the process of institutional formation. The study suggests that new initiatives like the mining cooperatives should be based on knowledge of the actual situation and grounded in existing institutions.
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Wakenge, C. I., & Hilhorst, T. (2017). Emergency or Durable Solution? Coltan Mining and Cooperatives in Northern Katanga (DRC). In People, aid and institutions in socio-economic recovery : facing fragilities. Retrieved from