'Mining money': science, legal technologies & working the borderlands of global finance

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    This paper explores the roles of science and market devices in the commodification of ‘nature’ and the configuration of flows of speculative capital. It focuses on mineral prospecting and the market for shares in ‘junior’ mining companies. In recent years these companies have expanded the reach of their exploration activities overseas, taking advantage of innovations in exploration methodologies and the liberalisation of fiscal and property regimes in ‘emerging’ mineral rich developing countries. Recent literature has explored how the reconfiguration of notions of ‘risk’ has structured the uneven distribution of rents. It is increasingly evident that neoliberal framing of environmental, political, social and economic risks has set in motion overflows that multinational mining capital had not bargained for (e.g. nationalisation, violence and political resistance). However, the role of ‘geological risk’ in animating flows of mining finance is often assumed as a ‘technical’ given. Yet geological knowledge claims, translated locally, designed to travel globally, assemble heterogeneous elements within distanciated regimes of metrology, valuation and commodity production. This paper explores how knowledge of nature is enrolled within systems of property relations, focusing on the genealogy of the knowledge practices that animate contemporary circuits of speculative mining finance. It argues that the financing of mineral prospecting mobilises pragmatic and situated forms of knowledge rather than actuarially driven calculations that promise predictability. A Canadian public enquiry struck in the wake of scandal associated with Bre-X’s prospecting activities in Indonesia is used to glean insights into the ways in which the construction of a system of public warrant to underpin financial speculation is predicated upon particular subjectivities and the outworking of everyday practices and struggles over ‘value’. Reflection on practical investments in processes of standardisation, rituals of verification and systems of accreditation reveal much about how the materiality of things shape the ways in which regional and global financial circuits are integrated, selectively transforming existing social relations and forms of knowledge production.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages24
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012
    EventAnnual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers - New York, United States
    Duration: 01 Feb 201201 Feb 2012


    ConferenceAnnual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    CityNew York


    • Risk
    • Science
    • Geographies of Finance
    • Transnational Commodity Production
    • Dis/articulation


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