The Rise in Conflict Associated with Mining Operations: What Lies Beneath?


Madagascar, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Peru, Tanzania, United Republic of, Ghana

Focus Area

Public Sector Capacity and Governance





sustainable development goals


$257,893 CAD


Global Affairs Canada
United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

Who Benefits



Field practitioners

Stakeholders in large-scale mining projects

Delivery Partners

University of British Columbia

Simon Fraser University

Centre for Responsible Mineral Development

Shinglespit Consultants

Triple R Alliance

The Challenge

Mineral resources hold unique potential to lift nations and communities out of extreme poverty. Effective resource governance can stimulate sustainable economic growth, enhance equitable distribution of national wealth, broaden public engagement, ensure access to justice and protect human rights and freedoms. However, a rich endowment of mineral resources is also often a source of conflict, with the social drivers and political determinants of these conflicts poorly understood. In developing and fragile states, poor governance, corruption, illicit financial flows and weak institutions threaten the peace, security and fundamental human rights of the world’s most vulnerable populations. To address these emergent global trends, this project sought to apply, mobilize and disseminate new research on the processes, pathways and dynamics of mining-related conflicts.

CIRDI's Approach

CIRDI collaborated with an interdisciplinary team of academics and professionals to conduct innovative, stakeholder-reviewed research that investigated the reported increase of mining-related conflicts globally. CIRDI’s approach to conflict research included a literature review, conflict database analysis, and field case studies. Achieving a broad view of conflict allowed a multi-stakeholder perspective to emerge along with an understanding of the interaction between key players in the generation of conflict. By engaging communities, civil society, government, industry, and academia in this research, CIRDI facilitated a comprehensive analysis of the processes, pathways, and dynamics of conflict and mining.

Project Details

This project was comprised of two phases. The phase-one study was based on three main components including a literature review, a compilation and analysis of existing global conflict incident databases (2012-2013) and field investigations of four case studies in Latin American and Africa. The literature review and conflict incident database analysis provided an opportunity to analyze the topic from a broad, high-level perspective, involving a relatively large number of incidents. The on-site, field-based investigations allowed for a deeper, more penetrating analysis based on a carefully selected sampling of existing and recent conflict cases.

Building on the findings of phase one, phase two included:

  • An academic literature review focusing on the role of government in conflict;
  • A broader database analysis (2002-2013) focusing on the relationship between institutional quality conflict and the ownership characteristics of mining companies;
  • A field case study focused on Ghana.

Cross-cutting themes


  • Female participation in field case study interviews was 45% in Peru, 25% in Bolivia, 31% in Madagascar, and 21% in Tanzania. Best efforts for gender inclusion were made, despite some cultural barriers. Field research included open-ended questions aimed at understanding the concerns of all stakeholders, including women and vulnerable groups.


  • Desktop and field-based components of the project examined the environmental impacts of mining as key drivers of conflict, in particular the quality and supply of water for human consumption and agriculture.


  • Desktop and field-based components paid particular attention to governance capacity as a potential contributor to or inhibitor of conflict and how it affects stakeholders including companies, host governments, communities and special interest groups.

Project Results

The first phase of the study included a literature review, a qualitative analysis of mining conflicts and four case studies from Bolivia, Madagascar, Peru and Tanzania. It reviewed 167 mining-related conflict incidents in 44 countries in 2012 and 2013.

The data indicated that:

  • 46% of these conflict incidents occurred in Latin American countries followed by Africa (24%) and Asia (17%).
  • These conflict incidents involved mining companies headquartered in 33 different countries. The top five countries are Canada (30.3%), the U.S. (8.6%), Australia (7.6%), South Africa (7.6%), and the U.K. (7.6%).
  • These reported conflict incidents correlate with the level of industry activity in these regions in 2013 (Latin America – 29%, Africa – 14%, Asia – 9%)

Read the report: The Rise in Conflict Associated with Mining Operations: What Lies Beneath?

Full Report

Executive Summary

Literature Review

Case Study 1 – Ambatovy, Madagascar

Case Study 2 – Bulyanhulu, Tanzania

Case Study 3 – Haquira-Las Bambas, Peru

Case Study 4 – Minera San Cristobal, Bolivia


Project Slides:

Conflict Study – Tony Andrews

Normative Model – Ian Thomson

Database Analysis – Chang Hoon Oh


FINAL REPORT: The Role of Host Governments in Enabling or Preventing Conflict Associated with Mining

Project Impact

The project work was grounded in the belief that good governance and informed public policy are key to mitigating and managing conflict by decreasing violence and corruption, increasing transparency and public participation in decision-making, and strengthening regulatory frameworks to safeguard human rights. This project produced high-quality research and data with the objective to strengthen governance systems and institutions at the national level, assisting host governments to integrate conflict prevention and management tools into their national practices at all levels of government.

The final report was finalized in September 2018 and launched at the IGF Annual General Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland in a side event hosted by the UNDP.

project team


updates and news

Press Release – New CIRDI and UNDP Study Looks at the of Role of Governments in Conflicts Associated with Mining

November 2018 – The Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) published a new study entitled, “The Role of Host Governments in Enabling […]

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