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Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith/OxfamAUS

Mining resettlement

Large scale development projects, such as mines, often lead to local communities being displaced from their land and resettled in other locations. Whilst governments and project developers have responsibilities to ensure that people are not worse off after resettlement, it can often lead to a range of negative impacts.

Mining induced resettlement can and does result in hardship and impoverishment for affected communities. When resettlement is involuntary, communities are often forced to relocate with little or no consultation or choice.

Resettlement can result in loss of livelihoods, and in extreme cases families face food and water insecurity. When livelihood restoration programs fail, families are left with little or no capacity to farm or access other income opportunities.

Intense pressure on land for mining and other large scale development means that finding suitable land for resettlement is difficult. Resettlement sites are often isolated, far from towns, markets, schools, and medical services.

This places additional burdens on women and young people. Women can become more economically dependent on their husbands as they are unable to access markets, and young people have difficulty getting to school and finding work. Resettlement can change the social fabric and cultural norms of a community, resulting in people feeling alone and abandoned.

The World Bank has a Performance Standard for Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement. It refers to both physical and economic displacement. Many oil, gas and mining companies cite this as ‘the gold standard’. However, a lack of independent monitoring and oversight usually results in resettled communities being worse off.

Oxfam Resources

Oxfam has undertaken research into the impacts of resettlement on communities. Our report, ‘Mining, Resettlement and Lost Livelihoods: Listening to the voices of resettled communities in Mualadzi, Mozambique’, documents the impacts of involuntary resettlement on 3600 people.


Find out more:

  • Visit the Mining, Resettlement and Research Initiative
  • Watch Sustainable Mining: getting resettlement right. Oxfam Mining Advocacy Lead Chris Madden interviews Tom Butler, President and CEO of International Council of Mining and Metals and Jon Samuel, Group Head of Government and Social Affairs at Anglo American. This video was produced for Oxfam’s Sustainable Mining Symposium (Friday 13 October 2015, run in partnership with the Melbourne Business School Asia Pacific Social Impact Leadership Centre), with the theme of ‘getting resettlement right’.