Emotions and Anti-Mining Activism: Exploring Variations in Community-Based Resistance to Extractive Industries in NSW, Australia

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Osborne, Natalie J

Other Supervisors

Howlett, Catherine

Seini, Monica M

Byrne, Jason A

Bosman, Caryl J

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Australia’s economy is driven by minerals extraction and the international trade of excess resources. The placement of mining operations near rural communities and natural landscapes triggers emotional responses. These deeply embedded emotions may drive resistance efforts that push back against State-approved resource extraction projects, and shape community attitudes towards natural resources and the mining sector. Emotions may be erased or overlooked during mining approvals processes. Further, it is argued that emotions are also under explored in studies of both environmental activism and the negative impacts of mining. I contribute to this arena of research and present here a project that explored the individual and collective emotional impacts of resource extraction. By doing so, this thesis aligns with calls for a greater understanding of the emotions that operate in response to mining operations. Specifically, this thesis presents anti-mining activists’ perceptions of mining operations in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, and how these views steered decision making. This study found that emotional reactions to resource extraction differed greatly depending on the community, place histories, and the position of activists within the resistance space and the community. Thus, the why of environmental activism against extractive resource industries is the focus of attention here, not necessarily the how of resistance strategy. The characteristics of two different effective activist movements that resisted mining operations are interrogated here. Findings here explore two communities that opposed local mining operations, two communities that emphasised different elements of activist approaches to defend themselves against a wicked political ecology conundrum and the State; two communities that fought for their treasured places, and won! Findings herein may be extrapolated to better manage resource operations where communities are exposed to unwanted resource extraction operations, as well as aiding in the creation of more focused and attentive governance that better scopes community impacts of mining. The thesis does this in four ways:

  1. Outcomes provide valuable understandings of place and communities that are facing new, or are currently experiencing, unwanted mining operations in their regions. This contribution responds directly to literature that calls for a greater understanding of emotions in relation to mining (Ey et al., 2017; Osborne, 2014; Pini et al., 2010).
  2. The thesis contributes toward, and engages with literatures that call for a greater understanding of place attachment and emotions in environmental justice issues (Schlosberg et al., 2018).
  3. Findings here call for improvements in natural resource management and extractive resource policy, industry practice, and community consultation.
  4. This research contributes directly to knowledges that frame and explore the specific emotional nuances of community, treasured places, and place in relation to mining operations, and natural resource management. This thesis scrutinises the emotions embedded within a political ecology conundrum. Therefore, political ecology theory, combined with emotional geographies theory and environmental justice theory, were used to delve deeper into the emergent subfield of emotional political ecology (Sultana, 2015). This rigorous theoretical frame helped to explore the emotions that emerged from two rural communities that were subject to local threat of unwanted extractive industry operations.
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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Environment and Sc

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emotional reactions

resource extraction


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