Mining projects in remote Aboriginal Australia: sites for the articulation and contesting of economic and cultural futures

Mining projects in remote Aboriginal Australia: sites for the articulation and contesting of economic and cultural futures Book Section

Culture, Economy & Governance in Aboriginal Australia

  • Author(s): Trigger, D.
  • Secondary Author(s): Austin-Broos, D., Macdonald, G.
  • Published: 2005
  • Publisher: University of Sydney Press

Abstract: In recent years it has become clear that there is now, and has been for some time, a range of responses to large-scale mining projects across Aboriginal communities in Australia. The responses vary from opposition to mining due to concerns about maintaining the cultural and environmental integrity of traditional landscapes, through to enthusiasm for mining developments as the promised bearer of economic benefits for Indigenous communities (Ah Kit 1995; Altman 1995; Trigger 2000). It is also clear that there has been considerable change in policy and practice in the case of at least some of the major mining companies. If we take the example of Rio Tinto, a paper by senior staff Harvey and Gawler (2003) presents the company policy as seeking to engage with Indigenous people to ‘find mutually advantageous outcomes’ and, in particular, to seek ‘economic independence’ for such communities through direct employment, business development and training. The paper (pp.199-200) sets out the considerable success of Rio Tinto in generating employment for Aboriginal people at various of its mines; these are running at 5 percent of the direct workforce across the Group’s Australian operations, and aiming for a higher rate, to match the proportion of Indigenous people in the regions where the mines are located. Significantly, in terms of issues raised in this paper, the Rio Tinto authors stress that this engagement of the Aboriginal communities through paid work and associated training does not involve cultural assimilation; it in fact enables people to choose participation in the Australian industrial economy while retaining valued aspects of their cultures (p.207).

Notes: Proceedings of a Workshop of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia, University of Sydney, Nov. 30-Dec. 1 [2005]

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Suggested Citation
Trigger, D., 2005, Mining projects in remote Aboriginal Australia: sites for the articulation and contesting of economic and cultural futures, Book Section, viewed 18 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=4282.

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