The state’s selective absence: Extractive capitalism, mining juniors and Indigenous interests in the Northern Territory

The state’s selective absence: Extractive capitalism, mining juniors and Indigenous interests in the Northern Territory Book Section

The Absent Presence of the State in Large-Scale Resource Extraction Projects

  • Author(s): Holcombe, Sarah
  • Published: 2021
  • Publisher: ANU Press
  • ISBN: (print): 9781760464486 (online): 9781760464493

Abstract: This chapter will explore the case of one such company seeking to operate in the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia, which, for ethical reasons I will refer to as ‘Top End Mining’, as they are still seeking approval to develop a mine. I argue that a focus on junior miners provides an important (and largely overlooked) window into the strategic presence and absence of the state in resource extraction contexts, and helps to reveal the structural factors that shape the relationship between miners and Indigenous communities. In this chapter, I set out to achieve three things. In the first part of the chapter, I provide an overview of this particular mining project, and the key features of junior miners, addressing a gap in anthropology of mining literature (see Bainton 2020). I then consider the regulatory limitations within the environmental and social impact assessment processes in the NT, in comparison with other Australian jurisdictions, and the way that junior mining companies have been able to take advantage of this ‘absence’ to the detriment of Aboriginal communities in mine-affected areas. This provides the basis to consider the disconnection between this impact assessment process and the agreement- making process for which provision is made under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth) and subsequent native title legislation. This disconnection is by no means unique to the NT; it is also found in other parts of Australia, and in Papua New Guinea.

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Suggested Citation
Holcombe, Sarah, 2021, The state’s selective absence: Extractive capitalism, mining juniors and Indigenous interests in the Northern Territory, Book Section, viewed 24 July 2024, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=27867.

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