Research Seminar: Detection of Artisanal and Small-scale Mines


Monday, June 6, 2022, 10:15am to 11:30am


WEX-434 & Zoom (registration information below)

The Growth Lab Research Seminar series is a weekly seminar that brings together researchers from across the academic spectrum who share an interest in growth and development.

Speaker: Mathieu Couttenier, Professor, University of Lyon and Ecole Normale Superieur

Abstract: Artisanal and small-scale mines (ASM) are on the rise. They represent a crucial source of wealth for numerous communities but are rarely monitored or regulated. The main reason being the unavailability of reliable information on the precise location of the ASM which are mostly operated informally or illegally. We address this issue by developing a strategy to map the ASM locations using a convolutional neural network for image segmentation, aiming to detect surface mining with satellite data. Our novel dataset is the first comprehensive measure of ASM activity over a vast area: we cover 1.75 million km² across 13 countries in Sub-Tropical West Africa. Our procedure is remarkably robust, which makes us confident that our method can be applied to other parts of Africa or the World, thus facilitating research and policy opportunities on this sector.

Whether attending in-person or over Zoom, please register in advance. Room attendance in WEX-434 is limited to the Harvard community only. Contact Chuck McKenney with any questions.

About the speaker: 

Mathieu Couttenier obtained his PhD in Economics in 2011 at the University Paris 1 Sorbonne, Paris School of Economics. Before joining the University of Lyon and Ecole Normale Superieur (September 2018), he was Assistant Professor at the University of Geneva. He was also post-doc at the University of Lausanne, visiting researcher at the department of political sciences at Stanford and at the economic department at Sciences Po Paris. His research is filled with interactions between economics and political sciences but also cultural, institutional and geographical issues. He focuses on microeconomic questions, in particular in the field of applied political economy. His main research interests are in the understanding of violence and civil wars. He has published many academic papers on the role played by income shocks, natural resources or climate on the diffusion of conflicts over space and time. Some of his present research agenda also studies the political economy aspects of media coverage or of international economics. He has published in many leading peer-refereed journals, such as the American Economic Review, Economic Journal, Review of Economics and Statistics, Journal of the European Economic Association, Journal of Development Economics and the Journal of Comparative Economics.