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Sustainable Seabed Mining: Corporate Geoscientists’ Visions in the Solomon Islands

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Item Summary

Title: Sustainable Seabed Mining: Corporate Geoscientists’ Visions in the Solomon Islands
Authors: Harris, Lindsey
Issue Date: May 2016
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2016]
Abstract: Mining companies’ corporate social responsibility programs represent their projects as sustainable. However, "sustainable mining” and the mitigation of social and environmental impacts remains an elusive goal. Numerous studies have documented how terrestrial mining industries disenfranchise and endanger local communities and destroy ecosystems. This paper tracks “sustainability” into seabed mining, a nascent, boutique mining industry which has garnered increasing commercial and political attention in part because corporate scientists represent seabed mining as a benign and profitable alternative to terrestrial mining. Empirically grounded in three months of participant observation on a Nautilus Minerals exploratory vessel in the Solomon Islands, I use actor network theory and critical discourse analysis to investigate how corporate scientists and technicians on the ship saw sustainability as a natural feature of seabed mining extraction aside from corporate social responsibility programs. The scientists used remote sensing oceanographic devices, echosounding equipment, mapmaking software, and cameras to see the seabed at the mining sites as lifeless and empty and to render the ocean invisible and unproblematic, and drew on a rich range of agricultural and pillaging metaphors and comparisons with other disastrous mining projects to reveal sustainability as a relational quality of seabed mining. Visualizing the extraction regime as sustainable is a new strategy seabed mining companies use to co-opt NGO criticisms. This work raises important questions about the limits of sustainable development and technnoscientific vision and the future relationship between telemining projects and environmental and indigenous rights groups.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2016.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections:M.A. - Anthropology

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