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Ref ID: 37271
Ref Type: Journal Article
Authors: Mayes, Warren
Chang, Nigel
Title: Discovering Sepon: cultural heritage management and the making of a modern mine
Date: 2014
Source: The Extractive Industries and Society
DOI: 10.1016/j.exis.2014.05.002
Abstract: The postcolonial history of mining in Laos emphasises the power and agency of outsiders over resource development. New archaeological finds at the Sepon gold and copper operation in central Laos raise questions about the role of local people, their living cultures both past and present, and how these influence the permissions required to mine. Modern mining has revealed an occluded local cultural knowledge evidenced by the discovery of a 2300 year-old copper mining industry and concerns about the disturbance of Animist ancestor and forest spirits. These concerns risk being ignored in the rush to secure resource access and obtain material benefits from mining. In this paper we investigate the cultural heritage management programme at Sepon. We explain how heritage projects generate dialogue around resource stewardship providing an example of ‘social license to operate’ as a process of fostering inclusion rather than just seeking permission. This reduces the risk of mining corporations being implicated in the disenfranchisement of vulnerable communities and ultimately helps to prevent premature mine closure.
Volume: 1
Number: 2
Page Start: 237
Page End: 248