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Global South Powers in Transition

A Comparative Analysis of Mexico and South Africa

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Edited By Deon Geldenhuys and Humberto González

Employing a novel collaborative transnational methodology, this ground-breaking book presents the first comprehensive and systematic comparison of Mexico and South Africa. Although geographically, historically and diplomatically far apart, Mexico and South Africa are ambitious and influential powers in the Global South and also experience wide-ranging domestic transitions. A binational team of 26 researchers from the two countries, all specialists in their respective disciplines, probe the transitions that Mexico and South Africa are undergoing in areas such as socio-cultural diversity, domestic politics, economic development, labour dynamics, social and territorial inequality, food security, crime and violence, and foreign relations. The detailed country studies allow the authors to identify striking similarities but also profound differences between the two societies. In so doing, the book helps to explain Mexico and South Africa to each other but also to the world at large.

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CHAPTER 8 Mining, the state and society

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CHAPTER 8

Mining, the state and society

General introduction

Claudio Garibay-Orozco, Elise Tempelhoff and Johann Tempelhoff

In today’s world, mining is a highly controversial economic activity. On the one hand, it is deemed vital because it provides mineral resources, such as metals, metalloids and fossil fuels, that are required for the functioning of global civilisation in the 21st century; on the other, the extraction of resources on a scale previously unsurpassed destroys landscapes more extensively than ever in the history of humankind. We thus live in a paradox on a planetary level where supplying minerals to keep global civilisation up-and-running comes at a great cost: the sacrifice of thousands of social ecologies in many parts of the planet where unique local cultures once thrived. This paradox becomes more acute and pronounced as once-abundant mineral resources approach the phase of depletion.

Recent research indicates that the number of discoveries of high-grade mining deposits is decreasing worldwide. By contrast, there is a broad frontier of low-grade deposits ensconced geologically not in veins, but in microscopic particles atomised among ample mantles of “sterile matter”, a context that the underground mining typical of the 20th century is technically incapable of exploiting profitably (Mudd 2007; Jackson 2009). The mining industry responded to the exhaustion of deposits by evolving towards mega-mining based on “open-pit” operations that require a gigantic industrial apparatus that may occupy hundreds to over 10,000 hectares. This type of mining reaches deposits...

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