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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Mining companies need to do more to counter extremism in Africa: study

Australian researchers found that environmental destruction and land disputes can be drivers of violent extremism

A copper-cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
A copper-cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Mining companies are not doing enough to prevent the rise of violent extremism in Africa even though they could be contributing to radicalisation through their operations, according to a new study.

Environmental destruction caused by mining, disputes over land rights and the displacement of communities can aggravate the “drivers of violent extremism in areas where there are communities at risk of recruitment and radicalisation”, according to a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Mining companies have been unwilling to get involved in counter-radicalisation programmes because boardrooms considered them too politically sensitive, or suggested that there was too little evidence to suggest they were doing any good, it said.

The report said companies can help communities to counter radicalisation through investment, jobs, trainee programmes, investing in social programmes and by discussing their plans at an early stage with communities to head off any problems.

“The global effort to prevent violent extremism can’t succeed without the private sector,” according to the report Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism in Africa: The role of the Mining sector.

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The cost of violent extremism around the globe has been estimated at US$90 billion with Africa particularly susceptible because of historic grievances, weak institutions and porous borders.

Mining projects have been targets for violent extremist groups in Africa, which is estimated to hold some 30 percent of the world’s mineral resources. Most of those resources are yet to be tapped with the role of mining companies set to expand.

The report, funded by the Australian government, is based on research in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya and Mali.

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