Lufwanyama district has some of the world’s best emeralds and mining, is not contributing to the local economic development. Mining has failed to stimulate local enterprises, traditional industries and access to environmental resources. Mineral wealth continues to benefit the elite. Vulnerable and resources dependent communities bear the socio-economic and environmental costs of loss of access to land, impoverished livelihoods and degraded environments. This research sought to investigate the economic, environmental and social impacts of small scale emerald mining on local community livelihoods in Lufwanyama district. However, this paper will only examine the economic impacts arising. Through the employ of a descriptive survey design, the effects of mining in the area were evaluated. Results indicate that overdependence on mining and poor diversification of livelihood options has hindered development of rural communities. Equitable distribution of employment opportunities and revenue from small scale mining remain a challenge for sustainable local development.
Key words: emerald mining, local communities, economic development, environmental resources, livelihoods, sustainable development, equitable distribution.