From gold mine to public policy: shaping promises and living life in a small mining town in Quebec
Rafael Simoes Lasevitz (Université de Montréal)
Paper short abstract:
Following the proposition of an open pit gold mine in a small Quebec town, this presentation focuses on how it turned from private initiative into public policy - erasing projects that preexisted it - and how its plans and promises eventually contrasted with the lived experiences of local dwellers.
Paper long abstract:
In 2006, the small traditional Quebec mining town of Malartic was facing one of its worst crisis. With local industries shutting down, it turned itself towards an ambitious project to diversify the local economy. However, it all suddenly changed when, that same year, a junior mining company presented to the community its project for a major local open pit gold mine - to be located downtown, forcing the removal of 200 of its buildings. Immediately dividing the local community, the project developed its persuasiveness through a discourse evoking jobs, stability and life quality. Months afterwards, the local mayor adopted the company's discourse, abandoned the economy diversification plan and turned the open pit mine into a major public policy. The purpose of this paper is to follow this public policy made ad hoc and its trajectory of promises in contrast with the lived experiences of local dwellers. How the project's impacts wouldn't take into account impacts that were already taking place such as the damaging of social tissues after locals strongly divided themselves between a "for" and an "against" side. While official documents focused on numbers and standards, actual experiences varied widely, from "allergic reactions" to daily blasts, lost businesses due to traffic re-routing, neighbours mutually accusing themselves of treason following secret deals with the company, and disputes around what causes cracks in houses near the mine.
Mining mobility: the movement of people and expertise in the context of extractive projects [Anthropology of Mining Network]