Sustainable mining and the north

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Department of Social Sciences


This chapter explores contested narratives of sustainability in mining, and focuses on two mining regions in the boreal north: the Lake Superior basin in North America and Sapmi in northern Scandinavia. Both regions are witnessing new mining booms, with dozens of companies actively exploring the regions. The chapter examines various narratives of mining sustainability to explore why different stakeholders in the north hold different positions on new mines. International Council on Mining and Metals gives the mining industry a platform to promote a corporate narrative of sustainable mining. This narrative reframes the conversation about sustainability, insisting that the story should not dwell on the problems associated with past mining. Indigenous communities have worked to articulate alternative definitions of sustainability to counter the dominant sustainability rhetoric of mining companies. Groups of mining companies have tried to deflect criticism of mining by creating extra-governmental, voluntary standards to improve the perception of their industry and promote sustainable mining.

Publisher's Statement

© 2019. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315714714-10

Publication Title

Environment and Sustainability in a Globalizing World