This paper examines the exploitation and management of gold mining in the western region of Côte d’Ivoire and the associated local social tensions and conflicts.
Taking a historical sociological analysis, the paper shows how good governance and conflict resolution initiatives (and in particular the 2014 Mining Code and the subsequent locally mediated governance arrangement), combined with the privatisation of the mine and its security, are leading to conflict. The study, which is predominantly qualitative, employs a mixed-methods methods approach, drawing upon direct observation, 20 semistructured interviews for stakeholder mapping and ten focus groups with gold panners, mine managers and local village populations. Quantitative analysis was conducted with 154 heads of households in the project area, i.e. the eight villages directly affected by gold mining activities. The content analysis revealed that the rationale for expropriation during the initial phase of mining was never accepted at the local level for economic and spiritual reasons. This resistance has increased following the establishment of a new mining administration and the new mining code.