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Accepted Paper:

Transforming Waste into Value: Assembling German Mining Dumps as Places of Decarbonized Future-Making  
Diana Ayeh (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research and Harz University of Applied Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines how green transition policies and projects in Europe and Germany tend to re-value post-mining landscapes as territories for/of future extraction. This is itself controversial in that there are different understandings of how these spaces are valued.

Paper long abstract:

The need to increase the material basis of energy transitions (i.e. by extracting minerals and metals) not only creates new mining frontiers (mostly located in the Global South) but also revives old ones in the Global North. Based on narratives which design the revival of European mining as indispensable for ensuring security of supply and responsible mining practices, this paper traces some of the prominent actors, technologies and ideas of transition. More specifically, it investigates the re-valuation of the waste material of mining dumps in the East German Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge). Based on interviews, participant observation and workshops in the frame of a transdisciplinary project on Deconta/ReMining technologies, the paper discusses a policy shift from treating mining dumps as 'non-problems' to framing them as indispensable resources and places to embark on the path towards a global 'green' and 'circular' economy. In doing so, post-mining landscapes present both traces of an extractive past and signifiers of a sustainable future. Yet it is also discussed how this valuation process is contested and fragile, as it involves different ideas on the future use of these terrains. While some actors argue for Deconta/ReMining processes leading to the complete removal of mining waste, others advocate for the preservation of tailings piles as valuable sites for nature conservation and historic preservation.

Panel P022a
Uncommon Explorations between Green Technologies, Climate Hopes, and the Anthropological Imagination I
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -