During my undergraduate degree I took many courses that focused on both international development and the politics and history of developing countries. As a politics major I was able to look at the institutions and policies which have led to conflicts, and as a history minor I was able to focus on WHY and WHAT led to countries being the way they are.
In my second year I did a project that focused on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I was travelling to East Africa that Spring to its neighbouring countries but all I knew about the DRC was that I was to “stay away,” because it was a country in trouble. The project I did focused on how the country got to where it is today and the realities of a mining country. I also learned a lot about Canada’s involvement in the mining industry through this project.
Did you know Canada is home to some of the largest mining giants IN THE WORLD?! I for sure didn’t. So over the next few years I made a point to focus most of my studies and projects on issues related to mining.
I am going to be posting some of these works over the next few weeks. The first is an overview of The Exploitation of Resources by Transnational Corporations within the Mining Sector
Development has historically led to some societies being more advanced and equal than others. This has created and perpetuated the first world versus the third world problems and has led to unequal economic relations. Due to financial globalization the world is now a global market. Goods, services, and resources flow freely across the globe making “buying local” a fast fading trend. The introduction of a global market has also led to many problems of exploitation. One of the problems that are plaguing the world today is the exploitation of resources by transnational corporations within the mining sector. This is a global issue but it is also very much a Canadian issue as Canada is home to some of the largest mining giants in the world. “Today, 75% of the extractive industry multinationals are hosted in Canada or registered on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). According to the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, in 2006 more than 50% of the world’s mining companies were listed on the TSX and more than 80% of the global mining industry’s investment financing was raised there” (Abadle ).
These Canadian mining companies are set up all over South America and all across Africa, and have helped to support civil wars, have created significant environmental degradation, and committed horrifying human rights abuses. ‘These companies enter into contracts with local militias that allow them to be exempt from royalties and taxes, in return for them turning a blind eye to the human rights abuses of the nation’ (Missakabo ). This is a problem that effects two different sets of people; first the local communities where Canadian mines are being set up, and secondly Canadian taxpayers whose money is helping to fund these projects. In a globalized era the demands of the Western World shape the realities of those living thousands of miles away and the mining industry is an example of this.
Canadian mining operates both domestically and abroad and they both come with their own sets of abuses and misfortunes. Canadian mining internationally has blown up in the past few decades as Canada has continued to increase its place in the extractive industry. The global market allows for Canadian mines to set up across the developing world, export minerals to intermediary countries and then ship the finished products all across the globe. The extractive industry is a prime example of how globalized the world is. It is also an industry that is connected to many other globalized ones as the minerals that are extracted from these mines are not only used in jewelry but more frequently in the technological sector. One of the countries that have been extremely devastated by the Canadian extractive industry is the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The DRC is home to a natural wealth of resources, which have been at the heart of this countries conflict for decades. In the DRC four very important minerals are found: Tantalum, Tungsten, Tin (the 3T’s) and Gold (War Child International ). These minerals are of such high importance and value because they are key in making the electronics that the West demands; cell phones, laptops, cameras and PlayStations. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) estimates that 3.9 million people have died from war-related causes since the conflict in Congo began in 1998, making it the world’s most lethal conflict since World War II. The level of poverty is extremely high in The DRC as all of the money from the mineral wealth of the country goes to the warlords who run the militias, the government officials they pay to turn a blind eye, and the Canadian companies who own the mines. That is the reality of the extractive industry in just one of the many countries that Canada among other developed countries who run mining companies is involved in.
Mining has always been a source of wealth but in the past few decades, with the rise of globalization there has been a change in who profits from it. The rich companies from the North such as Barrick Gold and Kinross make millions while the miners in the villages in the South make hardly anything. Global markets have made it possible for minerals from Africa to be sold to Asia and then across Europe and North America, and this system is continuing to benefit the North while it holds back the South. This kind of development has led to an extreme marginalization of voices; people’s lives are being impacted by decisions made around them.