Governing new mining projects in D. R. Congo. A view from the HR department of a Chinese company
ABSTRACT. As in many other resource-rich African countries, the liberalization of the copper mining sector in the D. R. Congo in the 2000s has caused an influx of foreign investors who have started new mining projects. Drawing inspiration from Foucault, this article aims to shed new light on the government of such projects. To do so, it takes as a case study the HR management policy of a mining project first developed by a South African junior company and then bought out by a Chinese state-owned enterprise. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, the analysis shows that putting in place HR techniques such as recruitment methods, industrial relations procedures, or personnel administration tools do not follow a single power rationality. Caught in complex power games, these techniques have distinctive historical backgrounds, ends, and effects. Such an approach, it is argued, allows to develop a more complex understanding not only of the process through which mining companies localize their operations, but also of the changes brought by Chinese capital in Africa.