Mining minerals or mining the state? The practical norms governing mineral extraction

Claude Iguma Wakenge

Type: DRC, Working Paper

Organisation: Claremont Graduate University

Country: DRC

Date: 06/08/2018

Full summary

This working paper examines the fragmented landscape of the Congolese administration governing the copper and cobalt extractive sector in Haut-Katanga and Lualaba provinces between April and December 2017.


In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), designated state entities are expected to play a formal stewardship role in governing this sector. However, in the study areas, the specific case of large-scale extraction of copper and cobalt shows that this governance fabric is largely fragmented.


Mapping the main actors and studying their overlapping roles and interactions with extractive companies, this working paper builds upon the literature on practical norms. It argues that, rather than being a coherent entity, the state governance of mining is broken up into various—if not parallel—administrative lines within the state itself, enabling many state actors to develop informal governance practices. Unless these practices are unveiled and addressed, transparency in governing the extractive sector and collecting mining rents from it will continue to be negatively stymied. The key finding of our analysis is that mining governance is largely fragmented and feeds, in many instances, practical norms.


The study underpinning this paper found the following:


  1. Rather than emerging from arrangements with non-state entities per se, the practical norms governing copper and cobalt mining are produced and have thrived within and from the state itself.
  2. There are four reasons for fragmented mining governance and practical norms feeding each other in turn: ambiguities and loopholes in the law, the rent-seeking behaviour of civil servants, in the face of appalling living and working conditions and, finally, the increased privatisation of the mineral sector.
  3. Local multiplication of state agencies in mining governance contributes to fragmented governance overall, which does not facilitate the Congolese state because of the relative autonomy of these agencies.