Apr 25, 2011

Paper of the day: Contention and Ambiguity: Mining and the Possibilities of Development

“Contention and ambiguity: Mining and the possibilities of development” A. Bebbington, L. Hinojosa, D. Humphreys Bebbington, M.L. Burneo, X. Warnaars, Development and Change 39(6):887-914. 2008. Here
The last decade and a half has witnessed a dramatic growth in mining activity in many developing countries. This paper reviews these recent trends and describes the debates and conflicts they have triggered. We review evidence regarding debates on the resource curse and the possibility of an extraction-led pathway to development. We then describe the different types of resistance and social mobilisation that have greeted mineral expansion at a range of geographical scales, and consider how far these protests have changed the relationships between mining and political economic change. The conclusions address how far such protest might contribute to an ’escape‘ from the resource curse, and consider implications for research and policy agendas.
Interesting points
There is also somewhat greater geographical unevenness in the domiciles of companies involved in mineral extraction. By 2006, the Brazilian miner, Companhia Vale do Rio Doce had ‘emerged as a full scale, integrated, diversified and successful global mining giant from a regional iron ore company’, becoming one of the world’s top four mining companies (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2007, p.29). By 2008, the top 40 companies included five from China, and two from each of Russian, India and Indonesia (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2008, p.50).
[n]ews was made in 2007 when for the first time a British company (Monterrico Metals) listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market and with significant copper assets in Peru was purchased by a Chinese consortium (Zijin).
Geographies of demand for minerals have also shifted, with East and South Asia becoming progressively more important metal consumers. Along with increasing involvement of hedge funds in commodities and derivatives (PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 2007, pp.49-50), this has pushed mineral prices steadily upwards since around 2003. Meanwhile, technological innovations in exploration, production and environmental management have also moved the mineral frontier outwards, converting once economically uninteresting deposits into viable propositions. Finally, profit margins have increased. The revenue of the world’s top 40 mining companies increased 2.6 fold between 2002 and 2006, while net profit increased more than 15-fold by 2007, and 20-fold by 2008(PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 2007, p. 34; 2008, p. 27).
[a]s ‘new forms of capital investment are intersecting with new techniques for establishing selective political order’ (Ferguson, 2006, p.195), so in Africa ‘the countries that (in the terms of World Bank and IMF reformers) are the biggest “failures” have been among the most successful at attracting foreign capital investment’

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