The Value of a River: Mining Projects and Cross-cultural Environmentalism in Papua New Guinea


  • Dr Emilka Skrzypek

Department of Social Anthropology – School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies

Dr Emilka Skrzypek’s research explores the role of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) review process in identifying and evaluating the impacts of the proposed mine at Frieda River in Papua New Guinea. The proposed mine is located in the tributary of the Sepik River – a globally important ecosystem and home to around 300 language groups. In theory, the EIS should address the imbalance that leads to some voices being heard much more easily than others when it comes to proposals for large-scale resource extraction. Does that theory hold true in practice?

This photograph was taken during Dr Emilka Skrzypek’s fieldwork in the Sepik area. The area, and the Sepik River pictured, stand to shoulder significant risk from a proposed mining development. Should the mine’s integrated storage facility collapse, the area will face catastrophic environmental contamination. Among other actors, Dr Skrzypek’s research looks at the Save the Sepik campaign set up by local communities to protect the river, and prevent development of the mine.

Photography: Emilka Skrzypek