Cleaning mineral supply chains? Political economies of exploitation and hidden costs of technical fixes

Philippe Le Billon*, Samuel Spiegel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article examines hidden costs of three prominent mineral supply chain ‘solutions’ that respectively aim to create ‘conflict-free’ minerals, curtail corruption, and reduce mercury pollution. Our analysis underscores the heterogeneous ways in which global capitalism shapes regulatory injustices spanning multiple scales, illustrating how ‘clean’ mineral supply chain schemes can hide inequitable territorial and economic regimes of accumulation and labour exploitation resulting in social harms for artisanal and small-scale mining communities, negative environmental impacts, and the reproduction of extractive political economies dominated by large corporations. We argue for increased critical attention to how mineral supply chain schemes narrowly circumscribe spaces for pursuing counter-hegemonic ‘transformation’.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReview of International Political Economy
Early online date17 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • conflict minerals
  • extractive industries
  • Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
  • formalization
  • global production networks
  • Kimberley Process Certification Scheme
  • Minamata Convention on Mercury
  • Supply chains
  • traceability
  • transparency

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