Natural resource exploitation and regional development: a view from the west
8 March, 2012
08 March 2012 | Australia’s recent resources boom has promoted much popular discussion and debate about the economic, social and environmental consequences for those regions in which mining occurs. Perhaps nowhere are the outcomes of the resources boom more evident than in Western Australia, where the diversity and scale of projects is fundamentally reshaping many regions. Similarly, parts of regional Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales and the Northern Territory have experienced major transformations as a result of mining. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, understanding the complex links between natural resources and regional economies, communities and environments has been of relatively marginal scholarly interest amongst social scientists in Australia. This sits in sharp contrast to the more extensive body of research that has been conducted in North America, where a longstanding tradition of ‘resource town’ studies has focused on issues associated with social structure, cultural change, and economic development. Much of this work pointed to the problematic relationships between resource dependence, socio-economic wellbeing and environmental conditions in these towns. Indeed, resource dependence was often found to be coupled with high levels of poverty, economic volatility, unemployment, social dislocation and low levels of environmental quality.