Illegal mining is considered an environmental crime, which is a collective term describing any illegal activity carried out by an entity, generally to generate financial or material benefits resulting in the affliction of the ecosystem by damaging environmental quality, driving biodiversity loss or overexploiting natural resources.
It is an activity carried out without legal permits, particular in absence of land rights, mining licenses, and exploration or mineral transportation permits. It can be a subsistence activity, same being with artisanal mining, or it can belong to large-scale organized crime, led by illegal mining syndicates.
In Africa, approximately 80 percent of small-scale mining operations can be relegated as operating illegally. Despite strategic developments towards ” responsible mining,” there are several big companies involved either partially in such a menace; digging and extraction minerals, or only on the financing side. In contemporary times, several stakeholders and government officials have been poked as being spearheads financing the actions of illegal mining activities around the continent. This calls for a red flag.
For centuries, towns were been established around mines all over Africa. These towns looking properous attracted many people from other localities to migrate to live in mining centres where there were employment opportunities and comfort. The towns soon expanded to accommodate a growing populace and industry. And for decades, mining was considered as an activity that brought much challenged economic wealth and prosperity to African countries. Despite the conspicuous benefits of the mining activities throughout the years, it’s also an industry fraught with numerous problems. After most of the African countries gained independence some of the mines closed whereas poverty and a high rate of unemployment ensued. Although that had a positive impact on local economic growth, it also had a major negative impact on the countries and there have been social, economic and environmental consequences.
Africa, prodded by wide poverty and a lack of essential income- earning room, illegal artisanal mining is a well- documented phenomenon on the continent. While legalization room for artisanal and small scale mining are hourly available, inefficacious government bureaucracy structures can make non-compliance more appealing for workers. Additionally, in efforts to attract foreign investment, some governments in sub-Saharan Africa have loosened national mining investment codes. An expansion of the large-scale mining schemes fueled by foreign investment has displaced rustic mining communities, many of which revert to illegal mining on concessions given to the formal mining sector.