Nick is an anthropologist who specialises in the social aspects of large-scale resource extraction. His work has a broad focus on the Pacific, and Papua New Guinea in particular.

Nick’s research career spans academic and applied research at the interface between extractive companies, communities, civil society and government. His work is guided by a concern with the inequalities inherent to extractive capitalism.

Nick has published widely on the social, political, economic, and cultural impacts of extraction. His current research is focussed on the complexities and contradictions contained in the pathways to a low-carbon future: how will energy transition metals be supplied in ways that do not undermine the goal of a just and fair transition to clean energy-systems?


Nick collaborates with a range of scholars and practitioners on various academic and applied projects.

He is currently a visiting Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Columbia (New York).  

Key publications

Bainton, N., McDougall, D., Cox, J., Alexeyeff, K. (Eds). (2021). Unequal Lives: Gender, Race and Class in the Western Pacific. Canberra: ANU Press.

Bainton, N., Kemp, D., Lèbre, E., Owen, J. R., & Marston, G. (2021). The energy-extractives nexus and the just transition. Sustainable Development. 2021; 1– 11. doi:

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

Bainton, N. (2020). Mining and Indigenous Peoples. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology. DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190854584.013.121

Bainton, N. (2010). The Lihir Destiny: Cultural Responses to Mining in Melanesia. Canberra, ANU E Press.


Nick’s research has been funded, supported and enabled through a combination of university funded projects, applied university-private sector research, private sector commissioned research, and management of private sector socio-economic impact monitoring and management programs.