Downing, T. et al. (2002) “Indigenous Peoples and Mining Encounters: Strategies and Tactics”


Recognizing that resource projects can have both negative and positive local economic, environmental and social effects, Precept 5 outlines the internationally accepted frameworks governing resource extraction. The report addresses the most critical sustainability issues in an encounter between indigenous peoples and mining companies, thereby providing useful insights for Precept 5.The report by Downing et al notes that much of the unexploited ores of commercial quantity lie under indigenous lands and as the pressure to access those resources builds up, so a major sustainability and land access problem unfolds. The report addresses the issue of sustainability in an encounter between indigenous people and other stakeholders. Four dimensions are found to assist in understanding these negotiations:

  1. The perceptions and objectives in the encounter.
  2. The stakeholder’s capacity to resist or sustain the negotiations.
  3. The tactics and strategies used in dealing with each other.
  4. The socio-economic and environmental risks and benefits.

 The report reviews the history of encounters and builds a typology of possible strategies and tactics. It is found that such encounters typically result in the loss of sovereignty for landowners and the creation of new forms of poverty. The most serious sustainability risks are indigenous people’s right to their culture and heritage. This source of ‘wealth’ and well being includes access to common resources, food security, spiritual certainty, mutual support in times of need and income generation from traditional sources. A sustainable approach therefore requires for indigenous people to improve their livelihoods but also enhance their collective wealth. The report provides an empowerment model with 15 sustainability elements that ought to form part of an encounter. This covers issues such as:

  • Rights and access to indigenous land and respect of sovereignty.
  • Benefit sharing arrangements.
  • Protection of basic human and civil rights. 

Access the report here.