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Latent Rural Depopulation in Latin American Open-Pit Mining Scenarios


  • Sergio Elías Uribe-Sierra

    (Instituto de Geografía, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Valparaíso 2340000, Chile)

  • Pablo Mansilla-Quiñones

    (Instituto de Geografía, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Valparaíso 2340000, Chile)

  • Alejandro Israel Mora-Rojas

    (Instituto de Geografía, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Valparaíso 2340000, Chile)


The increasing expansion of open-pit mining and the drastic transformations of land use in Latin America have led to processes of rural depopulation among traditional inhabitants, causing unsustainability in rural life systems. In the context of profound, worldwide territorial and environmental transformations, it is necessary to anticipate change scenarios and identify territories prone to rural depopulation. The objective of this article is to determine rural depopulation propensities through an exploratory multivariate study of the demographic, social, economic, and environmental conditions of territories where open-pit mining projects are being installed. First, a theoretical model is created using the grounded theory method for the literature review. Subsequently, indicators are analyzed using quantitative methods and geographic information systems. The results show that latent rural depopulation tends to be generated in territories with socio-environmental vulnerability, where advanced mining extractivism makes them prone to future depopulation. Some factors possibly leading to decreased rural population include the reduction of water availability; deforestation and depeasantization, due to urban development; gentrification, due to real estate speculation in providing lodging and food services to the mining project; and drastic changes in land use.

Suggested Citation

  • Sergio Elías Uribe-Sierra & Pablo Mansilla-Quiñones & Alejandro Israel Mora-Rojas, 2022. "Latent Rural Depopulation in Latin American Open-Pit Mining Scenarios," Land, MDPI, vol. 11(8), pages 1-23, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jlands:v:11:y:2022:i:8:p:1342-:d:891170

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