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    The mining industry of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) represents the most important sector of the country's economy, and the DRC belongs to the world top five diamond producers. Artisanal small-scale mining (ASM) of alluvial diamonds represents an important source of alternative income for subsistence farmers, but it also leads to several socio-environmental impacts: deforestation, river pollution, water resources exploitation, unhealthy, unregulated and sometimes dangerous work environments. We perform a data-driven comprehensive analysis of the impact of the diamond mining industry on natural resources and assess the potential relevance of these resources to the DRC food system. To this end, we evaluate land and water resources consumption associated with diamond mining from 2001 to 2018, cross-referencing high-resolution data on mines, land use and tree cover, and using a dynamic and spatially distributed agro-hydrological model. We leverage disaggregated agrological data to provide alternative resources allocation scenarios, and use subnational development indicators and spatially explicit conflict data to frame our analysis within the socio-economic context. We find that, despite the richness in natural resources of the DRC, the impact of diamond mining is relevant because of its effects on ecology, economy, and society. Resources and efforts currently put into the mining industry may have the potential to alleviate the malnourishment crisis in DRC if diverted towards the construction of a more structured and resilient food system. Phenomena such as the illicit trafficking of diamonds and their use to finance wars contribute to nullify the potential of mining as an alternative source of income for subsistence farmers. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


    Nikolas Galli, Davide Danilo Chiarelli, Manuel D'Angelo, Maria Cristina Rulli. Socio-environmental impacts of diamond mining areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Science of the total environment. 2022 Mar 01;810:152037

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    PMID: 34861300

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