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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 2.124

(Dis)integrations? Mining and Narratives of State Legitimacy in the Gobi


  • Dr. Ariell AHEARN-LIGHAM

Primary authors


This paper examines narratives of environmental governance, climate change and the State amongst mobile pastoralists related to mega mining infrastructure projects. In particular, it engages with qualitative research to examine transformations in the social and physical landscape in the South Gobi region where the Oyu Tolgoi mega mine is based, and how these narratives of change feature in two official complaints lodged by local mobile pastoralists against the mine. As one of the largest open pit copper mines in the world located 80 km from the border with China, Oyu Tolgoi is an important source of future revenues for the Mongolian government. As the national scale, this investment has enabled the government to perform certain narratives of statehood and independence from neighboring China. Herder's concerns around their rights to use natural resources and their demand that the mine performs as a good environmental citizen goes largely unanswered by state authorities, and this conflict is mediated by an international organization. At the local scale, state legitimacy becomes much more fractured and uneven as international agencies and even the mine itself are see to play a more effective role in local land use management and monitoring.