Sara Ghebremusse has been appointed the new Cassels Brock Chair in Mining Law and Finance in the Faculty of Law.
Ghebremusse brings extensive experience in scholarly research and teaching in the areas of mining law and governance, law and development, transnational law and human rights. She has published in all these fields and has presented her research at conferences around the world.
“We’re delighted to welcome Sara to Western Law as the holder of the Cassels Brock Chair in Mining Law and Finance,” said Erika Chamberlain, dean, Faculty of Law. “Sara is both an outstanding scholar and an excellent teacher, and I know she will be a wonderful addition to Western Law’s scholarly community.”
Ghebremusse was previously an assistant professor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C., where she supported the development of the school’s first-ever executive learning program in mining law and sustainability. She holds degrees from the University of Alberta, Carleton University, the University of Ottawa, the University of Toronto and York University.
An advocate for vulnerable populations
Ghebremusse is the principal investigator of a project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council,(SSHRC) examining how conflicts related to Canadian mining projects in Tanzania and Zambia have contributed to institutional transformation in the two countries.
Her interest in mining law was sparked while completing her juris doctor at the University of Ottawa where she worked on two research projects related to mining in Africa. Soon after, two notable litigations in mining — Choc v Hudbay Minerals Inc in Ontario, and Araya v Nevsun Resources Ltd. in British Columbia — cemented her decision to pursue an academic career with mining as a key research interest.
“These exciting developments in mining made it evident that this area of law — domestically, internationally and transnationally — is contested and ripe for additional voices to add to the scholarship and advocacy already undertaken by numerous scholars and activists,” said Ghebremusse.
“Since mining impacts the environment, human rights and the economies of countries across the world, it’s critical that mining law especially accounts for the disparate effects on Indigenous peoples, local communities and other vulnerable populations.”-Sara Ghebremusse, Cassels Brock Chair in Mining Law and Finance, Faculty of Law
Ghebremusse is currently engaged in a research project examining two conflicts involving Canadian mining companies in southern Africa: Barrick Gold Corporation in Tanzania and First Quantum Minerals Ltd. in Zambia.
Her project explores how these multi-faceted disputes have produced conflicting outcomes, from the resolution of tax disagreements and creation of the first company-driven dispute settlement mechanism in Africa to ongoing community grievances in both countries. She will consider how these different, intersecting elements have transformed state institutions and mining governance in Tanzania and Zambia.
“The environmental and human rights impacts of mining should not be overlooked during this rush for the critical minerals needed in the transformation to a greener economy,” said Ghebremusse. “I am excited Western Law is not shying away from these much-needed conversations.”