Alternatives from resistances: mining

Bea Rodríguez-Labajos
Tuesday 27th June, 12.00-13.30, ICTA-UAB

The mining extraction frontier continues to expand worldwide. What is driving this expansion? For some, the fundamental factor is the change in metabolic profiles (in terms of energy and material flows) of high-demand countries. This is not only an intellectual question. Increased mineral consumption and extraction has triggered a ‘glocal’ wave of socio-environmental conflicts around extractive industries. Thus, minerals commodity chains not only help to trace depredatory uses of materials and ecosystems, but also to connect social struggles at the different stages of these chains.  Among affected communities, environmental justice (EJ) has emerged not only as a central concern, but as a framework to organise claims in resistance movements.

We explore contemporary mining conflicts in the context of growing global societal metabolism, to broaden the sphere of the EJ movement. Drawing insights from a collective-case study approach, we identify several sources of perceived environmental injustice in mining conflicts, and five types of responses or proposed alternatives emerging from resistances. The latter range from protests that are close to the so-called not-in-my-backyard positions to claims for a post-extractivist systemic transformation. These typologies help us to discuss the role of mining conflicts in the emergence of a global environmental justice movements and, in particular, the political dimension of mining resistance movements at the glocal level. The way how the original research was conceived, involving both researchers and non-researchers in cooperative engagement, also allows a scrutiny of the links between Degrowth and the work of environmental justice organisations in the Global South.

Readings: Özkaynak, Begüm and Beatriz Rodriguez-Labajos. 2017. Mining conflicts. In: Handbook of Ecological Economics: Nature and Society, Spash Clive L., 40. ed. Oxon: Routledge.