Anthropological analysis of community conflicts with extractive industries


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Wednesday 6/7/2011 Guntra Aistara (Central European University). Anthropological analysis of community conflicts with extractive industries.

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Anthropological analysis of community conflicts with extractive industries

  1. 1. Environmental justice and “sustainable mining” Guntra Aistara Central European University & UN University for Peace UAB Environmental conflicts Summer School July 6, 2011
  2. 2. Analytical “ traps ” and anthropological approaches to conflicts <ul><li>Snapshots, pin points </li></ul><ul><li>Definitions, assumptions </li></ul><ul><li>“ Culture” </li></ul><ul><li>Essentialism, romanticization, and demonization </li></ul><ul><li>Depoliticizing; dematerializing </li></ul><ul><li>“ Objectivity” </li></ul><ul><li>Determinism, abstraction, and simplification </li></ul><ul><li>Left with complexity and contradictions... </li></ul>
  3. 3. Kirsch- Ok Tedi Mine <ul><li>BHP gold and copper mine in Papua New Guinea, since 1984 </li></ul><ul><li>“ Delayed” construction of tailings dam=river disposal of 1 billion tons of tailings and waste </li></ul><ul><li>1984, cyanide bypass valve left open for several hours= 100 m3 of cyanide released </li></ul><ul><li>International Water Tribunal ruling but no enforcement </li></ul><ul><li>Dual interests of state- taxes and shares vs. Responsibility to protect citizens through regulation </li></ul><ul><li>Lawsuits in Australia- settled out of court for compensation for loss of subsistence </li></ul>
  4. 4. Kirsch – Ok Tedi- Landscape <ul><li>Landscape not just surroundings, but physical embodiment of social ties and life stages </li></ul><ul><li>Mining disaster changed perception of history as spatial, based on landscape, to one of “before mine, after mine” </li></ul><ul><li>Time told through nature signs- bird songs, migration </li></ul><ul><li>Communication with animals (rather than separation) </li></ul><ul><li>New, intangible, risks </li></ul><ul><li>How to compensate, then, for loss of landscapes and animals, which signify sense of space and time? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Kirsch - Counterglobalization <ul><li>Costs of collaboration with NGOs: essentializing indigenous </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t want to choose between development and environment.... </li></ul><ul><li>Not trying to stop mine, but mitigate effects </li></ul><ul><li>“ Divide and conquer” strategies of company </li></ul><ul><li>Property vs. subsistence </li></ul>
  6. 6. Kirsch- Reverse Anthropology <ul><li>How have indigenous analyses of social and environmental relations helped them to respond to the mine?(p.2) </li></ul><ul><li>Old ethnography: ritual, kinship, exchange </li></ul><ul><li>New ethnography: class, citizenship, commodification </li></ul><ul><li>Recognize value of their alternative interpretations of political and economic relationships </li></ul>
  7. 7. Kirsch- Ok Tedi- Sorcery <ul><li>Mine as “corporate individual” has acted irresponsibly </li></ul><ul><li>Failure to acknowledge relationship to people downstream (120) </li></ul><ul><li>Traditionally sorcery the cause of illness, injury, and accidents; now mining activity </li></ul><ul><li>Common cause of anger is perception that exchange relations have not been met- call to public attention to cause feelings of shame </li></ul>
  8. 8. Kirsch- “Pollution is a social relationship” (129) <ul><li>“ Moral economy of social relations” (126-7): responsibilities of mine greater than physical impact on environment </li></ul><ul><li>Through neoliberalism, since state has abdicated its responsibility, communities must interact directly with company (128) </li></ul><ul><li>Natural science used in EIAs presumes nature as independent of social and cultural relations </li></ul><ul><li>Indigenous see environment as a hybrid of “things” and social relations, and ask for compensation on both levels </li></ul>
  9. 9. Sustainable mining? <ul><li>Kirsch: corporate oxymorons (“clean coal”) </li></ul><ul><li>Mining moves more earth than any other industry- can it ever be “sustainable”? </li></ul><ul><li>What is to be sustained, for whom, and for how long? </li></ul><ul><li>Maintain profitability for shareholders! </li></ul><ul><li>Sustainability = “strategically deployable shifter”- depends on how deployed by whom </li></ul><ul><li>“ strategy to conceal harm and neutralize critique” </li></ul>
  10. 10. Recent tailings dam failures from 6,000 to 8,000 m3 of dirt and waste water spilled into Pinchi lake Tailings dam collapse during reclamation Canada, British Columbia, 2004, mercury Spill into Mapanuepe Lake and St. Thomas River, villages flooded, 250 families evacuated Overflow and spill of abandoned tailings dams after heavy rains Philippines, Zambales, 2002, silver Covered 1.6 km2 in up to 1.83 m of ash and mud; downed power lines, ruptured gas line; damaged 12 homes Retention wall failure USA, Tennessee, 2008, coal ash Acid tailings in Kafue river (copper manganese, cobalt); shut down drinking water supply Tailings pipeline failure Zambia, Nchanga, 2006, copper mine Landslide buried 40 rooms; 17 missing, 5 injured; 130 evacuated; potassium cyanide in 5 km of Huasui river Failure while adding 6 th layer China, Zhenan County 2006, gold mine 11 homes washed away, 1 person killed Heavy rains Russia, Magadan region, 2009, gold mine Effects Cause Place, year
  11. 11. Hungary red sludge disaster, 2010
  12. 12. Hungarian red sludge disaster, 2010 <ul><li>Tailings dam break at alumina plant- byproducts of refining bauxite </li></ul><ul><li>700,000 m3 alkaline (ph9-13.5) red sludge containing metal oxides- caustic burns to skin, dust causes respiratry problems </li></ul><ul><li>After heavy rains, “tsunami” washed through four villages, all villages uninhabitable (40 sq. Kilometers) </li></ul><ul><li>Washed into tributaries of Danube and hit Danube three days later ( Europe’s 2 nd longest river) ;neutralized with gypsum </li></ul><ul><li>10 died, 120 injured because happened during the day </li></ul><ul><li>$97.3 million initial clean-up estimate </li></ul>
  13. 13. Crucitas: Welcome to the (Eco)-Mine
  14. 14. Changing names; changing politics <ul><li>1992 Placer Dome buys land, begins exploration </li></ul><ul><li>1998 Sold to Lyon Lake </li></ul><ul><li>2000 Sold to Vanessa Ventures </li></ul><ul><li>2002: V.V. Receives concession from government-first big protests </li></ul><ul><li>VV changes name to Industrias Infinito (Infinito Gold) </li></ul>
  15. 15. Parameters of mine <ul><li>estimated 1 m ounces of gold </li></ul><ul><li>Project area 1474 ha- former pasture, farm, forest land </li></ul><ul><li>Mine 176 hectares. 2 pits (50 ha) and tailings dam (126 ha) ; 65 m deep </li></ul><ul><li>Will leave “200 hectares of lakes; 1274 ha of forest regeneration” </li></ul><ul><li>3000 shareholders (2008) </li></ul><ul><li>$68 million capital costs </li></ul><ul><li>CyPlus cyanide destruction; SO2-H2O2 addition </li></ul><ul><li>Working 350 days/ year; moving 5,000 tpd hard rock; 7,500 tpd saprolite for 12 years </li></ul><ul><li>“ Strong potential to expand resource” </li></ul>
  16. 16. Legal history <ul><li>2002 May: A. Pacheco declares moratorium on mining (Crucitas exempt) </li></ul><ul><li>2004 Constit. Court annuls permit b/c violates C. A. Biodiversity agreement </li></ul><ul><li>2006 Dec. Const. Court upholds ruling that not permitted </li></ul><ul><li>(2007 Glencairn Bellavista mine closed after landslides) </li></ul><ul><li>2008 Feb. modified EIA project approved (reducing area to 50 ha, but tripling depth) </li></ul><ul><li>2008 Oct. 13 executive order of Crucitas as “public interest and national convenience“; Oct. 21 tree cutting suspended by Constitutional Court </li></ul><ul><li>2010 April 16 Const. Court determines mine will not hurt environment; April 17 injunction filed with Contentious Administrative court </li></ul><ul><li>2010 Nov. 24 Contentious Administrative Court annulled concession, ordered investigation of Arias and officials; I.I to pay environmental damages </li></ul>
  17. 17. Main contentious points <ul><li>Endangered and valuable species: macaws and yellow almond trees; 24 others </li></ul><ul><li>Potential cyanide spills, acid mine drainage </li></ul><ul><li>Contamination of underground aquifers </li></ul><ul><li>Proximity to Nicaragua and international river </li></ul><ul><li>Drowning a public road </li></ul><ul><li>National image &quot;Paz con la Naturaleza&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Mine reclamation and maintenance after ($600,000 environmental guarantee) </li></ul>
  18. 18. Environmental issues <ul><li>Reduced area from 126 to 50 ha, but increased depth from 12 to 65 m </li></ul><ul><li>Underground aquifer at 73 m </li></ul><ul><li>Acid mine drainage when residue exposed to air= sulfuric and sulfate salts) </li></ul><ul><li>EIA only in direct influence area, not indirect ( river basins) </li></ul><ul><li>No studies on drought or climate change </li></ul><ul><li>15 km (90 min.) to San Juan river </li></ul>
  19. 19. Company strategies <ul><li>Social benefits and development (taxes; reforestation 50:1; roads, bridges, electricity; jobs and training (260); funding for schools, social programs ($700,000/ year)- “logic of equivalence” </li></ul><ul><li>Founding local “environmental NGO” </li></ul><ul><li>Sponsoring politicians; Canada Day at Embassy 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>“I’ll see you in Court” (activists and country) </li></ul>
  20. 20. “ Generating lakes and forests”
  21. 21. Activist strategies <ul><li>Public protest (national interest) </li></ul><ul><li>Hunger strikes, “pilgrimage” to mine ( 170 km) </li></ul><ul><li>Exposing legal and environmental contradictions (timing of decisions; missing documentation </li></ul><ul><li>“Our problem is not the company, it is the state” </li></ul>
  22. 23. The role of government <ul><li>Pacheco: moratorium on open pit mining (anti CAFTA) </li></ul><ul><li>Arias: lifts moratorium; executive order for I.I to start operations </li></ul><ul><li>Chinchilla: reinstates moratorium </li></ul><ul><li>Ministry: implements antiquated mining code </li></ul><ul><li>Parliament: bans open pit mining </li></ul><ul><li>Constitutional Court: back and forth </li></ul><ul><li>Administrative Court: annuls permit </li></ul><ul><li>Local government: back and forth </li></ul>
  23. 24. Divided public opinion <ul><li>Local: Jobs vs. Environment </li></ul><ul><li>Regional and National: foreign domination </li></ul><ul><li>International: conflict with Nicaragua </li></ul>
  24. 25. Shifting narratives and frames <ul><li>Industrias Infinito </li></ul><ul><ul><li>2008: most advanced technology; high social benefits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2009: “leader in environmental management and social solidarity” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2010: “we are just poor miners that became trapped in a debate about national development” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Opposition groups </li></ul><ul><ul><li>2008: emotional presentation of risk </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2009:mine permits illegal, unknown potential risks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2010: technically, assessments shoddily done </li></ul></ul>
  25. 26. Analytical approaches to Crucitas <ul><li>Social vs. Scientific Rationality </li></ul><ul><li>Identity and strategic essentialism </li></ul><ul><li>Prevention vs. Compensation </li></ul><ul><li>Symbolic ecology and frames </li></ul>
  26. 27. Relation and application to other rural conflicts and issues <ul><li>Land conflicts </li></ul><ul><li>Livelihoods and alternative development </li></ul><ul><li>Property and intellectual property </li></ul><ul><li>Role of state regulation/ deregulation </li></ul><ul><li>Identity, worldview, social movements </li></ul><ul><li>Symbolic ecology, framing, discourse analysis </li></ul>