Indigenous Peoples and Mining

An interesting course is available at this website regarding how mining affects indigenous people groups.  Take a look.  I have added the basic introduction – this course is not affiliated with DustWatch CC in any way.  The post is added for interest sake alone.


Indigenous Peoples and Mining 1: Indigeneity Concepts and Context
Areas of Study: Environment and Community

This course examines the complex idea of indigeneity and surveys several active mining regions in the world to discuss the Indigenous context in those countries.

Authors: Amiel Blajchman MES, PGDip BusEnv, PGDip LACS (Co-Author), Corey Dekker (Co-Author)

“This course begins by introducing and critically examining the concepts and theories that underpin the idea of indigeneity. It then discusses some of the most active mining regions of the world, providing key contextual information about Indigenous peoples in common-law countries (Canada, United States, Australia) and Latin American countries (Mexico, Peru, Brazil). It also emphasizes Indigenous experiences with colonization, because these experiences frame the way many Indigenous peoples view mining and development activities today.

One of the overarching points we wish to stress at the beginning of this course, and which is reflected throughout, is the incredible diversity of Indigenous peoples—culturally, linguistically, developmentally, and in terms of their aspirations. In some parts of the world, such as the Amazon rainforest, Indigenous peoples might be some of the least advanced civilizations remaining in the world, relying on hunting and gathering to survive and having very little interaction with the outside world. In other parts of the world (such as Canada, the United States, or Australia), Indigenous people actively participate in politics and the community, run businesses, and use modern technology.

Indigenous peoples’ aspirations vary, too. In some cases, they may aspire to have legal, political, and social space to continue a way of life that they have developed over thousands of years. In other cases, they may aspire to find a way to balance the retention of their cultural uniqueness while also participating in the modern world. The authors of this course are attuned to this fact, even though a survey of contemporary Indigenous peoples’ aspirations is not covered in this course.

One characteristic that all Indigenous peoples share is a deep connection to their history. Although some people might consider the material we survey in this course to be ancient history, these events and stories form the basis of the relationship between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples. It’s important that anyone who might have interactions with Indigenous peoples (particularly in the context of mining) be aware of this.

Indigenous Peoples and Mining Series Background
The Indigenous Peoples and Mining series was developed to support mining professionals in understanding who Indigenous peoples are, how their rights and interests are recognized in standards and law, and to identify how contemporary mining activities impact Indigenous peoples.

All the world’s major mining regions are home to Indigenous peoples. As the Indigenous rights movement has gained momentum, the mining sector increasingly finds itself having to navigate challenging issues that arise as a result of exploration and extractive activities on or near Indigenous lands. Exacerbating such engagements is the remarkable speed of these political changes. When most present-day mining professionals were in school, Indigenous rights were not even on the radar. Indeed, even today—speaking especially from a global perspective—Indigenous issues are inadequately covered within the mining schools. To students and practitioners alike, the course series will be of interest to anyone active in mining today.

Upon completing the course series, participants will come away with an awareness of how contemporary mining activities fit within a long and dynamic story about Indigenous peoples—their existence, historical subjugation, cultural resiliency, and collective effort to gain recognition as distinct peoples with corresponding rights.”



Follow the link for the full article – Cultural Survival –

“Anyone who has seen the massive 900-page book entitled The Gulliver File (1992) will undoubtedly concur that for better or for worse anti-mining activism is a global social movement. This book lists mining projects and their parent companies around the world in alphabetical order and gives background history and environmental impact information (albeit from a particular activist perspective) about each project. A remarkable feature of this compendium is that so many of the listed projects involve indigenous peoples. While mining sites are geologically determined and hence the typical environmental justice arguments may not be so easily applicable to this observation, the disproportionate impact of mining on indigenous people deserves further attention and understanding.

The somewhat ambiguous title of this book refers to a speech made by Charles Barbour, the erstwhile President of the American Mining Congress, who referred to anti-mining activists in the following terms: “Like Gulliver, the mining industry is a robust giant held down by a million silk strings.” (Annual address to the American Mining Congress, 1981) Barbour estimated that activists had tacked an extra 15 cents onto the cost of producing every pound of refined metal in the United States. (Moody, 1992) The Gulliver File was the product of collaborative efforts among some 90 groups around the world that are working on anti-mining activism — many of whom have strong indigenous support even though the goals of indigenous communities are not often aligned with those of environmentalists.

Almost a decade after the book’s publication, mining activities on and around indigenous lands continue to grow while amicable and equitable agreements between indigenous communities and mining companies are still few and far between. Instead of applying generic political theories to this phenomenon, we need to understand the unique characteristics of both mining and indigenous communities in order to find a way forward.

How is Mining Different from Other Industries?

Mining can be classified as a kind of “windfall development” similar to the establishment of a casino in an impoverished neighborhood, ushering in a sudden influx of wealth to a community. Mining, however, represents a kind of windfall development very different from other projects (such as casinos, stadiums, or army bases) because of its inherent obsolescence. Most mines have a lifetime of a few decades or less. Furthermore, mining companies can often have monopsony power over their areas of operation (a monopoly implies one seller of goods or services, while a monopsony entails a sole buyer of goods or services). In other words, mining companies have tremendous leverage in their areas of operation because they are often the only source of stable employment and infrastructure development.

Whether or not environmental and human rights concerns should be means to an end or ends in themselves is a timeless normative debate. The consequences of corporate behavior, however, can — and should — be evaluated on their own merits, without insinuation of motives.

That being said, we must still recognize the historical conduct of mining companies on a global scale and not deny the offenses that have led to their contemporary caricature. Perhaps the most persistent negative image of mining companies emanates from the narratives of mining life in Southern Africa where the institution of Apartheid was too often used to the benefit of mining companies, and vice versa. The management strategies of large multinational mining companies, most of which have had operations in Africa, were often quite secretive, thus fueling conspiracy theories. In the words of one De Beers executive: “We stride across Africa in a very satisfactory way in all sorts of strange places. Part of the secret is we respect confidences. We don’t talk much.” (Kanfer, 1993)

While many of the misgivings about secrecy and human rights violations by mining companies have diminished over the years, examples recur of notably disturbing ventures — though multinational mining companies are not always involved in these cases. The civil war in Sierra Leone, for example, is largely a resource war between rebels (who control much of the diamond mining in the east of the country) and the democratic government. The same is largely true of the strife in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with its diamond and cobalt mines, and the continuing civil strife in Angola (one of the most resource-rich countries in the world).

Even the recent war in Kosovo has been described by a notable New York Times reporter as being largely about mineral resources surrounding the Stari Trg mining complex. (Hedges, 1998) According to the mine’s director, Novak Bjelic, “The war in Kosovo is about the mines, nothing else. This is Serbia’s Kuwait.””


Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

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