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Forecasting in unruly environments: The case of justifications of mineral extractability
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology. (Uppsala Laboratory of Economic Sociology)
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

One key prerequisite to the awarding of exploitation concessions – that is the sole right to exploit a discovered mineral deposit – is proving the future extractability of the discovered and surveyed mineral. Mineral explorers working in Sweden need not only ensure the future realizability of planned extractive operations, but also construct justifications of the economic recoverability, as defined in legislation and regulatory practice, of the mineral to be extracted. But how can one learn for certain whether a particular site will be able to house an extractive operation? How do mineral explorers produce reasonable expectations of the profitability and extractability of a site? And how are contingent expectations in turn justified in the legal domain? These questions sit at the very centre of contemporary mineral exploration activities where high costs are weighted against low probabilities of success.Forages into the roles played by imagined futures and expectations have in recent years been provided fields such as economic sociology, the sociology of expectations, economic anthropology and science and technology studies. These contributions have provided insights into the influence of expectations and into the temporal dimensions of (economic) action. Much is, however, left to be uncovered about the origins of and the production of accuracy, or reasonability, in expectations. Asking how mineral explorers produce and justify expectations of extractability in relation to the legal demands for proven future extractability, this paper uses a combination of interviews, observations and permit applications in order to trace how the (e)valuation and justification of exploration results take place.The justification of the future economic recoverability of a mineral deposit relies on a process of exploration and modelling that involves multi-disciplinary (e)valuations and which needs to negotiate and reduce contingencies that stem from endogenous and exogenousuncertainties. Based in this, the paper argues that the justification of extractability under demands of proven future economic recoverability means producing and seeking to realize unruly expectations wrought from the combination of economic, geological, environmental, technological, and social knowledge and know-how whilst at the same time seeking to counterbalance the uncertainties that lie in seeking to foreknow future events. However, as the justification of extractability does not take place in the field of mineral exploration but in a juridical setting, explorationists furthermore translate their assessments of extractability into values and grammars required by permitting bodies. Following this, the paper demonstrates how mineral explorers in present day Sweden navigate the unruliness of their environment in order to justify the worth and reasonableness of their expectations both in their own field, but also to external actors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Kyoto, Japan, 2018.
Keywords [en]
Mineral exploration, justification, imagined futures, sociology of prediction, sociology of the future
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-358440OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-358440DiVA, id: diva2:1242642
Conference
Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics 2018 - Kyoto, Japan
Available from: 2018-08-28 Created: 2018-08-28 Last updated: 2018-08-30Bibliographically approved

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