Sustainable Development Issues

The fundamental principle of sustainable development is to serve the essential needs of mankind at present while at the same time protecting and ensuring the needs of future generations. Economic, environmental and social concerns constitute the three basic pillars of the sustainable development principle.

The extractive industry contributes to sustainable development by integrating economic growth with environmental protection, social progress and effective governance.

Euromines' members have set forth and adhere to a series of guidelines for sustainable development in the European mining sector. These guidelines are based on the precept that access to and use of minerals and metals are essential to a sustainable society, to society's well-being and to economic development.

The mining industry in Europe provides many regions with growth and employment and contributes to the sustainable development of these regions.

Euromines members agreed to:

  • Conduct their activities according to principles which promote sustainable development;
  • Conduct their activities to ensure their long-term viability in order to develop and meet the demands and expectations of modern society for minerals and metals;
  • Conduct their affairs in a properly accountable manner with respect to all financial matters and the environmental and social aspects of their operations;
  • Seek continual improvement of environmental performance on the basis of sound science and technical and economic feasibility;
  • Consider environmental protection throughout the life of a mine, from its exploration to its closure;
  • Facilitate and encourage the promotion of safe use, recycling and disposal of products through an understanding of their life cycles;
  • Promote the conservation of biodiversity and integrated approaches to land use planning;
  • Respect human rights, cultures, customs and values of people affected by their activities;
  • Adhere to ethical business practices in all operations and to sound systems of governance;
  • Be constructive partners to advance the social, economic and institutional development of the communities in which they operate;
  • Implement an effective and transparent dialogue, communication and verified reporting arrangements with their stakeholders.

Full version: The Euromines Guidelines for Sustainable Development

Mining regions and communities

The mining industry can play a central role in community development by acting as a catalyst for positive change in areas that may otherwise have little if any opportunities for economic and social development. This is especially true in situations where mining can be a catalyst to help to build up other (non-mining) sustainable income sources in the areas where the mines are located so that communities are able to develop independently of the mine and are thus able to survive the exhaustion of the ore reserves and the departure of the mining operation.1

In active mining regions in Europe, the impacts of a resurgent extractive industry can be seen in the form of increased industrial output and development, newly-created and well-paid jobs that lead to increased tax revenues and further diversification of regional economies. European mining regions also have a significant impact on the global extractive industries through the development and production of modern mining technologies, machinery, equipment and services. At the regional level, the impacts and opportunities associated with modern extractive industry can provide long-lasting benefits in the support of localized industrial diversification, growth and prosperity when a mining lifecycle planning approach and sustainable development principles are applied to mine development.2

Substantial work was conducted a few years ago to show how regions (Scandinavia) have developed around the mining industry in a successful way.

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1 ICMM Community Development Toolkit
2 The European Network of Mining Regions, November 2006, European Regional Development Fund, Interreg IIIC

Did you know?

A newborn infant will need a lifetime supply of 300 kg of lead, 280 kg of zinc, 560 kg of copper, 1.350 kg of aluminium, 12.200 kg of iron, 9.950 kg of clays, 1.500 kg of salt and 448.000 kg of stone, sand, gravel and cement. All that has to be mined!