The global uranium rush and its Africa frontier. Effects, reactions and social movements in Namibia

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Uranium mines are the often forgotten source of nuclear power. This article studies impacts and social movements at a uranium mining frontier looking at the interaction between the global social metabolism, industrial dynamics and local ecologies of resistance. Namibia, the world's fourth largest producer of uranium, stands at the vanguard of the global uranium rush with 66 granted prospecting licenses and two operating mines. We focus on three generic attributes that help to explain the emergence and intensity of resistance by local communities to uranium mining: the ecology and geography of the resource; the degree and type of political and economic marginalisation of the community; and crucially, the connection and integration of local concerns with broader social movements and political demands. We show with the use of empirical material how these factors play out differently in five Namibian communities that have been, or stand to be, affected by uranium mining, and explain how local ecologies of resistance shape, or fail to shape, the global uranium rush. Our work offers an example of an integrative approach for the analysis of the global-local dynamics of environmental change in relation to the extraction and flow of the essential materials that fuel industrial economies. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)596-610
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2012


  • Africa
  • Commodity chains
  • Mining
  • Nuclear power
  • Social movements
  • Uranium


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