Tools for the disempowered? indigenous leverage over mining companies

Katherine Anne Trebeck*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Rather than passively accepting development, some Indigenous communities have forced their demands into corporate decision-making. Accordingly, recognising and responding to community expectations becomes a matter of prudent strategy and 'enlightened self-interest'. This paper examines the case of Century Zinc Mine in Queensland's Gulf of Carpentaria where the miner undertook negotiations and reached agreement with local Indigenous communities. It was later held to account by communities concerned about insufficient implementation of this agreement. Discussion then explores the campaign against Jabiluka uranium mine in Australia's Northern Territory, especially why multinational miner Rio Tinto deferred to local community wishes surrounding development. These experiences show that Indigenous communities are most effective in bringing leverage over mining companies when they impact upon profit or future profit (often related to reputation with specific audiences). The parameters and consequent limitations of a company's responsiveness to community demands reinforce fundamental roles for the state as ultimate regulator and provider.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-562
Number of pages22
JournalAustralian Journal of Political Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


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