Department of History Seminar - Dr Thomas Buchanan

Dr Thomas Buchanan will present ‘Stories from the World’s Largest Strip Mine: The Corporate Culture of BHP’s Mt. Newman Company (Pilbara, WA) in the 1970s’ 

This paper reveals the environmental culture of what came to be the largest strip mine in the world. Drawing on company sources that have never been analysed, and using standard sources in novel ways, the paper reveals, through analysis of the day-to-day workings of the mine, a corporate environmental tradition that historians have mostly ignored. This finding is significant in that it reveals the sort of day-to-day energy and water practices that have led to our current crisis, as well as the ideas that supported them, but the bulk of the paper is devoted to revealing the larger social context from which BHP’s corporate environmentalism emerged. It argues that BHP’s culture of racism and sexism should be thought of as closely linked to its perverse environmentalism. Mt. Newman was a small town in a remote area, but it was also part of a burgeoning multinational empire. For BHP it was a hothouse of ideas that would shape the Country, and world, beyond. 

Tagged in School of Humanities, faculty of arts