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Everyday Coexistence: Rural life at the intersection of small-holder agriculture and artisanal and small-scale gold mining.

Authors: Aaron Malone*, Center for Mining Sustainability, Colorado School of Mines
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Coupled Human and Natural Systems
Keywords: coexistence, artisanal mining, rural livelihoods, Peru,
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Explosive growth of informal mining boomtowns along the Rio Ocoña in southern Peru has jolted life in this remote valley, bringing small-holder agriculture into coexistence with artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) and established campesino communities into coexistence with rural-to-rural migrants. Our research examines how these multiple forms of coexistence shape everyday life and livelihoods in the study communities. We engage these complex dynamics as the necessary background to understand how the community is responding to environmental hazards, including everyday concerns like the contamination of water needed for agriculture and household uses, as well as more infrequent but dire concerns like the potential for El Niño rains to trigger catastrophic flooding, landslides, and debris flows. We ask how perceptions of environmental risk and potential mitigation options are shaped by diverse individual and household livelihood strategies and community tenure, as well as looking for areas of consensus and convergence. We will share preliminary results from social science research meant to inform technical-engineering projects being developed by a joint US-Peruvian research group. In addition to contributing to applied environmental work, this research also aims to help diversify the literature on the nexus of mining and rural livelihoods in South America, which has tended to emphasize large-scale, corporate mining and has neglected closer examination of how the effects of ASGM follow or diverge from the mega-mining experience.

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