Chapter 7: The Australian Minerals Industry Code for Environmental Management
THE INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL ECONOMY OF MINING The impacts of mining Mining is the world’s fifth largest industry and a quarter of all ‘developing’ or ‘post-communist’ countries can now be described as ‘mineral economies’ (that is, where at least 10 per cent of national income or 40 per cent of export earnings are derived from mining).1 Although the mining industry is an important economic sector in many countries, it has been heavily criticized for its impacts on the environment, human rights and social protection (Oxfam Community Aid Abroad, 2003; Evans et al., 2001). These criticisms have been exacerbated by the fact that many countries have removed or weakened legislation to protect local resources, employment, environments and cultures in order to increase their appeal to potential investors (Rosenfeld Sweeting and Clark, 2000: 10). Mining operations are usually 20 to 40 years in duration, and environmental impacts such as acid mine drainage and land contamination frequently continue long after mining operations have ceased. The environmental impacts of mining can include massive land disturbance, the removal of vegetation, siltation, increased demand for water, physical pressures on the environment, soil and water contamination, noise and visual impacts (World Bank, 1998; Rosenfeld Sweeting and Clark, 2000: 6–18; Mineral Policy Centre, MPC, 2001a; MMSD, 2002: 232–67; Da Rosa and Lyon, 1997: 29–92; Hancock and Roarty, 2002: 43–4). The impacts associated with specific mining operations are highly dependent on site-specific factors such as the size of the mine, the method of mining,2...
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