Mineral development in remote parts of the world has become a major focus of environmental and social resistance movements. Despite the economic benefits that may accrue for local people, the impact of such projects is increasingly being questioned, particularly by indigenous communities. However, there are ways by which amicable and effective resolutions to development disagreements can be achieved despite cultural differences between the developer and the community. Using qualitative research methods, this article presents a comparative analysis of two mining projects on the Pacific island of New Caledonia where the indigenous Kanak community has shown differentiation in their response to the two projects. Our analysis shows that the project encountering less resistance has more effectively embraced principles of transparency, flexibility, and indigenous ownership. Our analysis suggests that mineral developers operating on indigenous lands should consider the power of process in reaching agreements rather than erroneously assuming that litigation or buyouts are inevitable. Such an approach is likely to reach more sustainable solutions to development in remote indigenous communities.
The Contemporary Pacific – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Jul 27, 2006