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Empty Promises and the Myth of Mining: Does Mining Lead to Pro-Poor Development?


Mining operations in the Global South often worsen conditions for affected communities after the conclusion of the operations as compared to pre-mining conditions. This is regression, not progress, which is contrary to the narrative surrounding mining’s promise of economic growth. While mining certainly brings profit, this profit does not result in social and economic development of affected communities and people living in poverty. This is the ‘myth of mining’ and the objective of this article is to expose this myth, identify its failings and propose a notion of ‘equitable mining’ that could ensure a pro-poor mining industry.

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Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. I am grateful to Charles Young for his insights and comments and to Tammy-Lynne Bekker for her assistance. I am also grateful to my colleagues at the Wits Law School, who gave me excellent feedback at the annual law school conference.

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Business and Human Rights Journal
  • ISSN: 2057-0198
  • EISSN: 2057-0201
  • URL: /core/journals/business-and-human-rights-journal
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