I have 30 years of research experience on the social impacts of resource extraction, including a cumulative four and a half years of consultancy fieldwork at extractive industry sites in PNG, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and West Papua, as a private consultant, as a research fellow at the Australian National University, and in my last position at Divine Word University in PNG, on sites operated by BHP, Rio Tinto, Newcrest and Freeport McMoRan, among others.

In addition to my work on extractives, I have practised as a Native Title anthropologist in Australia for 20 years. I was Senior Anthropologist in the Torres Strait Regional Authority, 2001-2004, and have contributed to a range of successful Native Title determinations for the Jirrbal, Babaram, Muluridji, Warrungu and other peoples in North Queensland (2005-2019).


From 2015 to the present I have been a member, with Akuila Tawake and Pierre-Yves Le Meur, of the steering group for the Pacific Network for Social Responsibility and Natural Resources (PacSen) hosted jointly by the Geoscience Division, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, and the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Nouméa. An active project is ‘Community-Company Agreements (CCAs) in the Pacific’ for which a funding application from European Union sources is in process.

A recently completed collaboration involved researchers from the Institut agronomique néo-Calédonien, Nouméa, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Nouméa, with a grant from the Centre National de Recherche Technologique, Paris, on the Petites et Moyennes Entreprises Minières en Nouvelle-Calédonie project (‘Small and medium mining enterprises in New Caledonia’), 2016-2018. A Pacific inter-university collaboration, for which I was the representative of Divine Word University, Papua New Guinea, 2016-2019 is the Pacific Islands Universities Research Network (PIURN).

Key Publications: 

Bainton, N., Owen, J., Kenema, S., Burton, J. (2020). Land, labour and capital: small and large-scale miners in Papua New Guinea. Resources Policy 68, Oct. 2020, p. 101805.

Bouard. S., Levacher, C., Bencivengo, Y., Decottigny, L., Demmer, C., Le Meur, P-Y., Blaise, S., Burton, J., Enjuanes, F. Grochain, S. (2019). Petites et moyennes entreprises minières en Nouvelle-Calédonie. Note de Synthese. Pouembout, New Caledonia: Consortium IAC, IRD, CNRS, UNC, DWU

Burton, John E. (2018). The reasonableness of leaders and the gaming of mining incomes in Papua New Guinea. In L. Dousset & M. Nayral (Eds.), Pacific Realities. Changing Perspectives on Resilience and Resistance (pp. 132–150). New York: Berghahn Books.

Burton, John E., & Yuambari Haihuie (2017). Corruption Risks in Mining Awards: Papua New Guinea Country Report. Port Moresby: Transparency International Papua New Guinea. Retrieved from

Burton, John E. (2014). Agency and the ‘Avatar’ narrative at the Porgera gold mine, Papua New Guinea. Journal de La Société des Océanistes, 138139, 37–51.