From fatal iron ore mining activities in Brazil to deep sea mining explorations in the Kingdom of Tonga, a look into this sector reveals how mining conglomerates, big and small, operate in resource-rich nations. The extraction of resources is considered instrumental in economic development, through taxation, employment and infrastructure development. This type of economic rationalism legitimizes corporations that extract and trade in natural resources.
Investigating the extractive industry, or the buying and selling of natural resources, unpacks the power mechanisms behind this industry. Operating in a legislative and political framework, mining companies leverage the need for economic development in countries across continents, leaving behind barren land.
Beyond ownership of the mining lifecycle, mining companies fund cultural centers, infrastructure, and the development sector. The extractive industry’s spill-over into other sectors creates dependence on their financing. This work takes the position that these are acts of corporate conquest disguised in what is considered public interest. I argue that this is an insidious form of colonial structure.
Since the 16th century corporations such as the Dutch East India Company have made their fortune in natural resources and today’s mining multinationals continue to wield significant economic and political power.
Where historically, colonialism entailed the annexing of land subsequently displacing culture, societies and existing structures of governance, today mining corporations continue a similar form of conquest that is justified within the economic remit.