The Australian Mining Industry and the National Imaginary
Mining has long been established in Australian public discourse as an activity that has driven the Australian economy, and guaranteed Australia against the economic ills of the rest of the West. Or put slightly differently, the positive spin on mining in public discourse and the financial market, has kept attention away from the fact that as a nation Australians live beyond their means (just as the rest of the West), and they do so in one of the most catastrophically unsustainable societies in the world. In my paper I wish to look at how mining companies operating in Australia and beyond construct story-telling of what they are, and what they do. I want to relate this story-telling to broader issues, or let’s say competing narratives about corporate achievement, such as CSR, environmental protection and the effect on local communities where they operate. I am particularly interested in the question of mining in ‘remote areas’ (‘’ because what is remote to whom?) in Australia and outside. At the time of writing this, I am thinking about taking my departure in Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria as representing one of these marginalised ways of telling alternative versions of mining and its impact on – in this case - an indigenous community. I also wish to look at the presence in Greenland of a large Australian owned and managed mining company involved in the exploration of ‘specialty metals’ in an area that also contains deposits of uranium. In this paper I wish to position myself between the two ways of speaking about margins/marginalisation in relation to the mining industry, that is, as something conducted beyond the horizon, something which defines the horizon - and as a process through which remoteness defines the (national) self.
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EASA12 Conference European Association for Australian Studies, 2013