New smelter will reduce sulphur dioxide emissions

What is the scale of Chinese investment in Africa generally and in the countries we have studied? What form does it take? This chapter will set the scene for the analysis that follows by discussing the scale and nature of Chinese investment.

Data Deficits

Before discussing the details, however, it is necessary to note that the picture offered here is incomplete because data on China’s role is, for a variety of reasons, unreliable.

Chinese investment in the mining sector in the DRC can be divided into three phases: the phase of artisanal mining, of smelters or semi-industrial mining, and of industrial mining.

China has made huge investments in Zambia’s extractive industry in the last five to six years. Chinese intentions to upscale involvement and to be one of the major players in Zambia’s extractive industry are seen through medium- to long-term investments, and in the establishment of other industry-supply based infrastructure. China is, in addition, making long-term financial commitments to the country, although obviously actual expenditures will ultimately be the basis for assessing this support and investment.

The ‘conflict minerals’ campaign has been hugely influential, particularly in relation to the DRC. It has focussed attention on how the illicit trade in all sorts of minerals – such as coltan, cassiterite and tantalum – has fomented conflict and facilitated mass human rights violations. However, it has also helped to divert attention away from other mining-related abuses and from the reality that conflict minerals are everywhere – because everywhere you go, mining companies and their paid-up protectors in government are in conflict with local communities.

Zambia’s copper industry is doing well. Now the third largest copper producer in the world, its mines produced over 700,000 tons in 2011 – an output that was last recorded in the industry’s heyday in the 1960s. And an output that was set to be smashed in 2012 with the Bank of Zambia forecasting that copper production would rocket to over 975,000 tons.

If the global demand persists and the commodity prices remain buoyant then Zambia’s mines could rake in as much as US$7.3 billion.

Criticism by RAID and African Progress Panel

Revenue Watch marks down SADC states

The largest mining investment in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) - by a consortium led by Freeport McMoran - has brought the people of Fungurume poverty not prosperity 

Bad roads and insecurity hamper humanitarian relief

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