Discovering Sepon: cultural heritage management and the making of a modern mine

Mayes, Warren, and Chang, Nigel (2014) Discovering Sepon: cultural heritage management and the making of a modern mine. The Extractive Industries and Society, 1 (2). 237-248.

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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.

Item ID: 34906
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2214-7918
Keywords: Laos; mining; heritage; anthropology; archaeology
Funders: MMG-LXML
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2014 02:27
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210103 Archaeology of Asia, Africa and the Americas @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950502 Understanding Asias Past @ 60%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9503 Heritage > 950399 Heritage not elsewhere classified @ 20%
84 MINERAL RESOURCES (excl. Energy Resources) > 8499 Other Mineral Resources (excl. Energy Resources) > 849999 Mineral Resources (excl. Energy Resources) not elsewhere classified @ 20%
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