The formalization of artisanal and small-scale gold mining in Colombia: a political settlement approach

Authors: Gisselle Vila Benites*, The University of Melbourne
Topics: Political Geography, Latin America, Natural Resources
Keywords: political settlements, informality, small-scale mining, Colombia, Latin America
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Stones Throw 2 - Slate, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This presentation will discuss the influence of the mineral political settlement in formalization policies targeted for artisanal and small-scale gold mining in Colombia. It is estimated that up to 72% of the total gold production in this country comes from informal and illegal extraction. However, although formalization efforts have increased during the last decade, progress is slow and conflicted. While most research focuses on failures in State capacity to understand why miners do not formalize, I propose an examination of the political processes that underlie the formulation of policies and mining institutions. I argue that the mineral political settlement in Colombia excludes artisanal and small-scale miners, resulting in the production of institutions that increasingly marginalize this activity. For that purpose, I work a "territorial turn" in political settlements theory (Khan, 2010), to understand the links between mining elites, the State and territorial projects. Crossing interviews, archives and policy documents, this presentation will share the first results of an ongoing research project.

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