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Land, life and labour in the sacrifice zone: The socio-economic dynamics of open-cut coal mining in the Upper Hunter Valley, New South Wales

  • Year: 2013
  • Author: Drew Cottle
  • Journal Name: Rural Society
  • Journal Number: Vol. 22, No. 3
  • Publisher: eContent Management Pty Ltd
  • Published Location: Maleny, Qld.
  • ISBN: 1037-1656
  • Country: Australia

This article provides a case study analysis of the social, economic and ecological impacts of open-cut coal mining in the Upper Hunter region of New South Wales (NSW) from the beginning of the resources boom in the early 1990s to the present.


The article draws on secondary and grey literature relevant to open-cut coal mining in the Upper Hunter region to explore how the nature of the extractive process and its integrated logistics of ‘the coal chain' directly affect mining workers, the community, primary producers and the physical environment, through an analysis of secondary and grey literature. It is argued that the operations of the mines has made the region a climate change ‘hot spot' and a ‘sacrifice zone' where the sacrifices are made by mining workforce, the people of the area and the land.

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