What are the impacts of mines on wealth in local communities? Two new publications by Dr. Hyacinthe Zabré and his co-authors provide answers.
Repeated household surveys in the frame of a health impact assessment (HIA) have generated deeper insights into the economic impacts of a large copper mine in Zambia. Mining communities that were directly impacted by the mines experienced improvements in wealth. The positively impacted communities included areas located within the mine’s concession area or at resettlement sites, profiting from infrastructure investments or health interventions, and experiencing project-induced in-migration. The positive impacts on wealth were mainly characterized by increased household possessions or improved building materials. Beyond these local-level impacts, also communities that were not directly impacted by the mines showed increased economic development compared to other parts of Zambia – potentially through spillover effects. “These findings indicate that with the right management approaches, mining projects can substantially contribute to local economic development”, says Hyacinthe Zabré, the first author of the two recently published studies. “However, other studies have shown increasing health inequities in mining communities. Therefore, collaboration between the private and the public sectors to prevent development of inequalities and inequities between communities and households are necessary. Health impact assessment together with regular monitoring has great potential to ensure that no one is excluded from the overall development opportunities of mines.”