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Mining and the Environment in Melanesia: Contemporary Debates Reviewed

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Title: Mining and the Environment in Melanesia: Contemporary Debates Reviewed
Authors: Banks, Glenn
Keywords: environment
resource control
socioeconomic context
LC Subject Headings: Oceania -- Periodicals.
Issue Date: 2002
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation: Banks, G. 2002. Mining and the Environment in Melanesia: Contemporary Debates Reviewed. The Contemporary Pacific 14 (1): 39-67.
Abstract: Recent controversies linked with the large-scale mines in Melanesia largely
revolve around the impact of their waste management strategies on downstream
communities. This issue has generated debate and conflict at Ok Tedi and Porgera
in Papua New Guinea, PT Freeport Indonesia’s Grasberg mine in Irian Jaya,
and Ross Mining’s Gold Ridge mine in the Solomon Islands. In each case, the
issue is generally portrayed as purely an environmental one. There is evidence,
though, that from the indigenous perspective the range of issues involved extends
beyond the environmental to take in economic, social, political, and cultural conc
e rns. In this paper, I revisit debates about the links between the environment and
economic development in the context of mining in Melanesia. I suggest that the
distinction between environmental and other causes of these disputes is overstated
in relation to Melanesian communities. Instead, I argue that disputes over the
impacts of the mines are better understood as disputes over community control
of resources, and hence control over the direction of their lives.
ISSN: 1043-898X
Appears in Collections:TCP [The Contemporary Pacific ], 2002 - Volume 14, Number 1

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