Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 12/2010

Cheap but Costly: Constraints of Economic Development in the Coal Mining Industry

Sofiah Jamil, Lina Gong

November 2010

Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies


The demand for coal is set to increase over the coming years, especially among developing countries. However, while coal may be a cheap source of energy to facilitate economic development, it is costly in terms of the implications for human security. Coal mining has been seen to adversely impact local communities and cause sociopolitical instability. Long-term environmental sustainability is also negatively affected. This NTS Insight seeks to examine the extent to which governance mechanisms have been successful in mitigating these socioeconomic and environmental costs, with a focus on China and Indonesia. The paper will also assess the effectiveness of current initiatives designed to address the various forms of human insecurities stemming from coal mining in the two countries.