Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mining, Social Movements, and the Resource Curse

During the growing push for nationalization of mining in South Africa, it is worth keeping in mind broader debates about the promises and perils of the mining sector as a development pathway in poor countries like SA. I stumbled upon a paper from the Brooks World Poverty Institute at Manchester University, Contention and Ambiguity: Mining and the Possibilities of Development. You can read the working copy here.

From the abstract,
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.

The ANC leadership appears hesitant at best to consider any nationalization of mining despite strong support from trade unions. This reluctance could easily change if even more voices calling for greater regulation, revenue sharing and participatory management of mining demand a reversal of the "resource curse" facing mineral rich countries like South Africa.

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