John Edison Ubaldo, University of the Philippines and Dominique Caouette, Université de Montréal
Mining projects arguably provide opportunities to enhance the economic and social infrastructure of local communities but once mines are closed, oftentimes abandoned, corporate responsibility for rehabilitation and detoxification are often neglected. Such was the case for the Sipalay copper project on the island of Negros Occidental, Philippines. The Maricalum Mining Corp. (MMC) mine operated from 1942 until 2001, almost 60 years. Yet, when it closed down, no funds for infrastructural protections were allocated and developed for decontamination and land regeneration. The paper aims to offer a nuanced and counterintuitive perspective on the issue of sustainable mining development during and after the operation of MMC. Highlighting the various local understandings of these two periods, more specifically around peoples’ livelihoods, environmental sustainability, and municipal revenues, we show how people directed affected by MMC understood quite clearly the positive and negative consequences at the community, governmental, and corporate levels. As time passed, affected families and hamlets learned to maximize possible gains while minimizing negative consequences, revealing a significant agency when dealing with a financially powerful and politically influential external force.
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