Stories of the invisible mine : ethnographic account of stakeholder relations at the Frieda River Project, Papua New Guinea
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Located amid tropical rainforest, in an upper tributary of the Sepik River, the Frieda River area is home to one of the biggest undeveloped gold and copper deposits in the Pacific. Exploration of Frieda’s rich deposits has been ongoing since it began in 1969, bringing together unlikely partners in a process of preparing for a large-scale resource extraction project. This thesis offers an ethnographic account of stakeholder relations as they were unfolding at Frieda over forty years after the first company arrived on the banks of the River. It presents the key stakeholders of the Frieda River Project as outcomes of relations which produced them, emergent from an interplay between prescribed roles and expectations of responsibilities, and on the ground activities of forming and negotiating social relations. Through an ethnographic study of the Payamo it describes a process through which the Frieda River Project’s local stakeholders mobilized a range of complex and contested relations to turn Frieda’s rich deposits into development, and to make the mine at Frieda happen. This study provides an ethnographic insight into complex and contested processes of planning for a resource extraction project as they were actually taking place. It proposes an analytical framework of looking at a mine as a social relation and argues that although it might not yet have the appearance which would make it visible to the company and the government, from the perspective of its indigenous stakeholders the Frieda River Mine is already happening, but it has not yet revealed itself.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2024-10-28
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 28th October 2024
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