Rendering mine closure governable and constraints to inclusive development in the Andean region

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Although the early stages of mining are often associated with promises of socioeconomic development based on economic growth, limited oversight of mine closure practices has tended to deliver lingering social, economic, and environmental problems across the Andean region. New and revised legislation, policies, and regulations that address mine closure in the region demonstrate what I argue are attempts to render mine closure governable—that is, the circumscribing of mine closure as an ‘intelligible’ and strictly technical problem, amenable to state intervention, without challenging existing bureaucratic processes or political economic structures. Such narrow framings of mine closure exclude possibilities for local consultation and participation, and, by extension, hinder the relationship between mine closure and a more socioeconomically inclusive and less environmentally damaging form of post-mine development. I outline discrete attempts to make mine closure more easily governable in the Andean region, with detailed focus on the cases of Colombia and Chile, and show that this process also tends to render local populations invisible. I point to the conspicuous disconnect between high hopes for mining's contribution to Andean states' economic growth and concrete possibilities for post-mine development based on ideas of equity, inclusion, and social justice. I conclude by pointing to the need for legal and regulatory institutions in the Andean region that more actively facilitate the creation and distribution of benefits, services, and livelihood opportunities following mine closure.

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Australian Research Council



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