Mining in a Sustainable World Conference to be held at UNE

Published 13 August 2013

peaceAn International Interdisciplinary Conference will be hosted by Peace Studies, School of Humanities, University of New England 13 to 15 October to examine the pros and cons of mining. Focussing in an interdisciplinary fashion on environmental, social and political economic issues, the conference promotes a ‘big picture’ and solution-oriented approach. It hopes to encourage constructive dialogue between people with a range of perspectives.  It hopes to uncover new ways to transform these conflicts. Notable speakers will present on aspects and insights including: health; indigenous communities; social science; mining; law; humanities; physical sciences; economics and civil society perspectives.

Focus questions to be explored at the Conference include:

  • What is the relationship between mining and sustainability? Given that extraction is generally a once-off process, is mining generating enough public finances to pay for long-term environmental consequences, such as disposal of radioactive waste? Are future generations, farmlands and the environment being adequately protected through governance? Is the precautionary principle being utilised sufficiently, for example with regard to underground water and carbon emissions?
  • What are the economic advantages and disadvantages of mining booms? Are the benefits of mining being distributed equitably? How much employment does it generate, and is this employment sustainable? Are mining companies faced with too much red tape? What are the impacts of Fly-In Fly-Out practices on rural communities and on workers?  What is the impact of mining on Aboriginal communities?
  • What are the ethics of allowing mining on public lands, such as nature reserves and state forests? What ethical dilemmas arise over corporate and government access to private land? Do communities have adequate control over disputed practices such as coal seam gas extraction? What are the various dimensions and elements of the conflicts between communities, mining companies and governments? Can they be resolved or transformed, and if so, how? What is the role of protest and nonviolence (including use of the arts and new social media) in ensuring sustainability and equity? What new social movements are forming around mining issues?
  • What mining is essential? What alternatives to mining exist, such as through reductions in consumption, better energy efficiency, development of renewable energy? Where should public funding be directed?

The conference has a minimal registration fee. People wishing to register or make presentations at the conference should contact Marty Branagan on 6773 3951 or email marty.branagan@une.edu.au.