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Scales of Benefit and Territories of Control: A Case Study of Mineral Exploration and Development in Northwest British Columbia

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
The resource peripheries of Canada are contested spaces. In recent decades, governments, resource industries, and local communities have faced the impact of globalization, industry restructuring, and shifting international and national social and environmental protocols. This research investigates how governments, corporations and local governments use socio-spatial principles of territory and scale to distribute economic benefits from resource development. Utilizing a case study of mineral exploration and mining in northwest British Columbia, Canada, I explore how principles of territory and scale are used to define ‘places of benefit’ within the region through the distribution of economic benefits from corporate social responsibility (CSR) and regional economic networks. CSR networks are composed of large international networks of non-governmental organizations and mineral development industry associations that define standards for the mineral exploration and mining industry. Regional economic networks are composed of multi-scalar government and non-government organizations that create economic development strategies for regional development. My research reveals how governments, corporations and local governments use socio-spatial principles to define which places are included or excluded from accessing economic benefits distributed by these networks. In NW BC, the on-going dispute between First Nation and senior levels of governments, over the title of and jurisdiction over mineral resources creates an atmosphere of ‘uncertainty’ for investors. Companies, in collaboration with senior levels of government, are using CSR networks to facilitate the continued expansion of mineral development in the region. Whilst the economic benefits of this practice to First Nation governments, mineral development companies and the provincial government have been significant, this research draws attention to the impact of this practice on the regional scale. Non-First Nation local governments do not have the same access to CSR networks and are reliant on developing economic development strategies to capture economic benefits from mineral development occurring in the region. Local governments are restricted by their position within the multi-scalar jurisdictional hierarchy as to how they can engage with companies to attract development within their jurisdictional boundaries. The result is a continued division between First Nation and local governments that challenges the creation of a fully collaborative regionalism.
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Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Markey, Sean
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