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Saleem H. Ali director of the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, and Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of Queensland, Australia. He is also Adjunct Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont, USA. Dr. Ali is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer for 2010 and World Economic Forum "Young Global Leader" (2011). His books include "Treasures of the Earth: Need, Greed and a Sustainable Future" (Yale University Press). He can be followed on Twitter @saleem_ali.

Mining in El Salvador: Can Corporate Behaviour be Changed?

Guest article by Vladimir Pacheco Central America remains a land of tremendous potential but persistent poverty. In vulnerable states recovering from civil strife and growing inequality, foreign corporate investment has additional obligations to ensure community consent through patient engagement. In this guest article, Vladimir Pacheco, a social scientist who has worked on mining and human…

The FARC and the Taliban: Drawing Lessons across Colombia and Pakistan

Few Pakistanis get to visit Colombia, a country quite physically and culturally distant from their land of abode. Yet as I discovered from my visit to Colombia’s capital Bogota this week, there is much which Pakistanis can learn from this land of coffee, cocaine and coal. So what are the similarities between these two ostensibly…

Mauritius: Charting the Future of an African Outlier

Travels across the South Indian Ocean can be nicely punctuated with an exotic stopover on the small island state of Mauritius. The country boasts a fine airline which flies regularly to Australia and connects to various destinations on the African continent with which it shares geopolitical allegiances, including membership in the African Union. In January…

Afghanistan: Reaching In and Reaching Out

In this guest article, my former student from the University of Vermont, Ian Lynch, narrates his perspectives on Afghanistan’s future based on the past months he has spent in Kabul as a teacher for the School of Leadership (SOLA). Ian exemplifies the best of American youth who are trying to genuinely help rebuild Afghanistan despite…

Mercury Reduction in Xinjiang’s Gold Mines: Fieldnotes from an Eco-entrepreneur

Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASM) continues to be a major user of metallic mercury worldwide. During the past six months the National Geographic Air and Water Fund for China has supported an applied research project with Dr. Lanhai Li based at the Xinjiang Institute of Geography and Ecology (a Chinese Academy of Sciences institute)…

Lessons from a Penultimate New Year’s Eve in Sydney

Temporal milestones are opportunities for reflection and renewal. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Graduation Reunions – we celebrate these festivities with fanfare, but also try to find a sobering moment to ponder what each event means. Yet the euphoria that surrounds the celebration around our most definitive temporal milestone – the advent of a New Year on the…

Adventure, Records and Constructive Nationalism

As with other troubled lands, many of the most educated citizens of Pakistan live abroad. Those in the diaspora often feel torn between multiple allegiances. They contend with feelings of guilt-laden compassion for their land of origin, while registering relief on fleeing turmoil. What do we owe our lands of origin? How can we enjoy…

Chile and Pakistan: A Missed Opportunity for Mineral Relations at Reko Diq

Looking at a planetary map, one would find very little in common between South America’s most developed country, Chile, and South Asia’s beleaguered nuclear power, Pakistan. Apart from the physical distance, there is little commonality in linguistic, religious or ethno-cultural background. Yet minerals and economic expedience have brought these two countries closer to possible cooperation.…

Rapid Reflections on Russia

From October 18 to 22, 2013, I had an opportunity to participate in an intensive series of meetings and site visits organized by the World Economic Forum’s network of “Young Global Leaders.” Special thanks to the program organizers Yana Peel and Yan Yanovskiy who graciously hosted the program. The program operated under Chatham House Rules…

Australia and Pakistan: A Neglected Relationship?

How stronger ties are both politically expedient and economically advantageous for both countries.  In this article I partner with Sydney-based Australian writer Danielle Gehrmann who has visited Pakistan several times.  We collectively consider how to use ecological and economic incentives to build an unusual dyad of international relations between our two lands. Danielle Gehrmann and…

Employment and Indigenous Empowerment in Mining: Australia and South Africa

I recently supervised the Master’s degree thesis project of Richard W Roeder, a German lawyer and Rotary Peace Studies Scholar at the University of Queensland who sought to ask the following research question:  “How do Public Governance and Private Governance regarding the employment of Indigenous Australians / Historically Disadvantaged South Africans in the mining sector…

Australian Research Consortium Engages on Critical Minerals

Article by Gillian Cornish, Artem Golev and Saleem Ali This article provides a summary of the Rare Earths Research Symposium which was held at The University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane, Australia on Friday 31 May, 2013 with more than 70 attendees from industry, academia and government to discuss emerging research questions surrounding the full…

Race for Rare Earths in Central Asia

Guest article by Sebastien Peyrouse In this guest article, Dr. Sebastien Peyrouse of George Washington University provides an overview of key developments in rare earth minerals development projects in Central Asia. Dr. Peyrouse participated in the inaugural event of the Rare Earths Research Consortium, at the University of Queensland. Whereas China has decided to reduce…

Myanmar, Bangladesh and India: Prospects for Energy Cooperation

Guest article by Mirza Sadaqat Huda As the world turns its eyes on reforms in Myanmar / Burma and investment rushes in, the opportunities and challenges of trade and peace-building with Myanmar’s neighbours to the West, Bangladesh and India deserve further study. In this guest article, one of my doctoral students, at the University of…

Haiti’s Mineral Fortune: Deliverance from Destitution?

Haiti — the poorest country in the Western hemisphere has been struck by natural misfortunes and malevolent foreign intervention for decades. As the first independent nation to emerge from resettled African slaves in 1804, Haiti held much promise at its inception. Yet the nascent Haitian state was beset by marginalization from its neighbors, particularly the…