Mining, development and Indigenous peoples
125 Ciaran O’Faircheallaigh For some Indigenous peoples, there is an inherent contradiction between mining and sustainability, reflecting the cultural and environmental impacts of mining and the fact that they feel marginalised by decision making processes associated with large scale mineral development. Other Indigenous peoples believe that mining can contribute to sustainable development of Indigenous peoples and communities, but only if it is conducted in a way that gives Indigenous peoples the power to control its impact, and by so doing allows them to share in its benefits and minimise its costs. This chapter is written from this second perspective. It begins with a discussion of the Indigenous role (or lack of it) in making decisions about mining on their ancestral lands. It then examines two specific issues that are central to the interaction between extractive industries, Indigenous peoples and sustainability. In relation to ecological sustainability, the chapter illustrates the way in which Indigenous participation in environmental management of large resource projects serves to minimise their negative ecological impacts. In terms of economic sustainability, the focus is on the use of mineral revenues accruing to Indigenous peoples to promote economic and social development that can be sustained after mining ends.