In the Northern Quebec region of Abitibi lies the Malartic gold mine, the largest open-pit gold mine in Canada. Standing at the edge of this 4km-wide hole in the earth, one can envision what it might mean to inhabit another planet. For this is an inorganic environment—a place where Earth is being literally turned inside out. We may speak of the planet in terms of care, life, and love, but in reality almost all the Earth (beneath the very thin strata of topsoil upon which the biosphere rests) is violently antipathetic to carbon-based life forms. At sites like Malartic, metals and minerals meet with life-sustaining substances such as water and air to create acids and poisons destructive to the biological environment. Yet if the mine is a place where gold is brought up from ancient and deadly underworlds, it is also the inception point for a world of technical assemblages, profit, and various bets on the future. As such, mines are more than just holes in the earth. They are chokepoints of both the subsurface and the surface, and of the past and the future: a narrow aperture between below-ground matters forged millions of years prior and above-ground dynamics constitutive of present and future life.
|Publication status||Published - Oct 2019|