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Mining within the context of a “preferential option for the poor”


  • James P. Cooney


The challenge of enhancing the contribution of mining to poverty reduction can be usefully explored within the ethical framework of Christian social justice as articulated by pastoral documents of the Catholic Church. The central concept in this ethical framework is the “preferential option for the poor”. One reason for using this Church-based perspective to explore the normative dimensions of the relationship between mining and poverty is that some of the strongest criticism of mining in developing countries of the global south comes from Church leaders, whose perception is that mining is not an agent of distributive justice and does not truly benefit the poor. Mining contributes demonstrably to economic growth in host countries and local areas of operations, but it also tends to widen the income gap. Poverty has both an absolute and a relative dimension, even though incomes per family may increase as a statistical average or as a real experience in many households, a widening income gap can create the impression of relatively greater poverty in the minds of those in the lower tiers of wealth. The challenge then is: how can mining contribute wealth to host countries and communities in a manner that narrows the income gap, thus achieving true poverty reduction?

Suggested Citation

  • James P. Cooney, 2023. "Mining within the context of a “preferential option for the poor”," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 36(2), pages 361-366, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:minecn:v:36:y:2023:i:2:d:10.1007_s13563-023-00366-2
    DOI: 10.1007/s13563-023-00366-2

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    Church; Mining; Poverty;
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