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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mineworkers' quality of life in remote communities : a multiple case study in the Brazilian Amazon Costa, Silvana Dunham da


The mining industry has long played a significant role in regional development in remote regions throughout the world. For the last two decades, the industry has faced high expectations regarding sustainable development and corporate social responsibility, particularly in remote and environmentally sensitive areas. Mining community models and mineworkers’ accommodation strategies in remote locations have varied greatly, yet there has been little documented reflection on the various models’ performance or on their implications for the quality of life (QOL) of mineworkers and their families and for the pre-existing local communities. This multidisciplinary case study research used a subjective quality of life approach to investigate the levels of satisfaction with QOL and specific aspects of QOL domains in three communities: the company town, the gate development community and the integrated community. The triangulation of data from qualitative and quantitative methods was used to examine the major QOL factors that should be taken into account by mining companies, local governments and policy makers when planning for mine development in remote areas. Findings suggest that differences exist between the mineworkers’ levels of satisfaction with specific QOL aspects and how QOL predictors are defined in distinct mining community models. Even though the case studies represent clearly different models of mining communities, in general, mineworkers in the three communities seem to be only moderately satisfied with their quality of life. It is also suggested that employees living in two almost opposite models—the company town and the gate development community—seem to have similar levels of satisfaction with overall quality of life, suggesting that the investment in infrastructure and services limited to the boundaries of the company town is not reflected in a generally improved perception of overall quality of life in this community. Findings also support the argument for an environmental and social impact assessment process for new mines in remote areas. This process should include a full and integrated consideration of the economic, environmental and social impacts of the workforce migration to remote areas and the consequent intensification of the already rapid urbanization of environmentally sensitive areas such as the Brazilian Amazon.

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