[Iag-list] Mining governance in New Caledonia: talk tomorrow, U Melb

Simon P J Batterbury simonpjb at unimelb.edu.au
Mon Aug 1 20:03:56 AEST 2016


Mining governance in New Caledonia: local development or resource curse?
Dr. Matthias Kowasch
Department of Geography, University of Bremen, Germany (University of Graz, Austria from late 2017)

Tuesday 2 August 2016, 1pm
Theatre 2, 221 Bouverie St, Carlton , Melbourne
Geography & Environmental Studies Seminar Series Semester 2, 2016
Building 379
221 Bouverie St, Carlton Victoria 3053 Australia
https://science.unimelb.edu.au/events

New Caledonia, a French overseas territory in the South Pacific that possesses more than 25% of the world's nickel reserves, is currently undergoing a process of decolonization, after a period of Civil War in the 1980s. Balanced between demands for independence of the indigenous Kanak population and political affiliation to France, there is a spatial as well as a socio-economic and cultural division of the population. The independence movement sees the nickel industry as a vehicle for local development. So, the indigenous Kanak peoples perceive the new nickel smelter in the North of the New Caledonian territory, called the Koniambo project, to be 'their project' in order to generate employment and services, political emancipation, and 'development'. Unusually, it is they, rather than multinational mining  companies or the Territorial or French government,  that are guiding mining development and benefiting from some of the resulting employment and services. With its involvement in the mining industry, the independence party FLNKS wants to show that they are capable of running a major global mining project at such a scale.

This paper presents results from a PhD thesis and postdoctoral research about the participation of the indigenous Kanak communities living in the vicinity of the new nickel smelter. Secondly, I will give some prospects for the development of the mining sector in New Caledonia in the frame of the upcoming referendum about political independence in 2018: is it providing local development, or leading to a resource curse?

The work is based on extensive fieldwork. I lived and worked in New Caledonia for nearly four years, at the Institute of Research for Development (IRD) and at the University of New Caledonia (UNC). In the present presentation, I choose an interdisciplinary approach, and cross geographical and anthropological methods in empirical studies.



Matthias Kowasch is a lecturer in Human Geography in the Department of Geography of the University of Bremen. He conducted research on "Mining Governance" and "Value of Place" as a postdoctoral fellow at the French Institute de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) in New Caledonia. Matthias' thesis, written in French, was entitled "Les populations kanak face au développement de l'industrie du nickel en Nouvelle-Calédonie" and included extensive ethnographic study of indigenous villages in New Caledonia.


Dr. Simon Batterbury
Associate Professor| School of Geography | 221 Bouverie St  (rm L2.33) | University of Melbourne, 3010 VIC, Australia. |  +61 (0)3 8344 9319 |  simonpjb @ unimelb.edu.au

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