headerpos: 9353
  Estonian Journal of Earth Sciences

ISSN 1736-7557 (electronic)  ISSN 1736-4728 (print)
An international scientific journal

Formerly: Proceedings of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, Geology
Published since 1952

Estonian Journal of Earth Sciences

ISSN 1736-7557 (electronic)  ISSN 1736-4728 (print)
An international scientific journal

Formerly: Proceedings of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, Geology
Published since 1952

Journal Information
» Editorial Board
» Editorial Policy
» Article Publication Charges
» Archival Policy
» Copyright and Licensing Policy
Guidelines for Authors
» Instructions to Authors
Guidelines for Reviewers
» Review Form
Open Access
List of Issues
» 2018
» 2017
» 2016
» 2015
» 2014
» 2013
» 2012
» 2011
» 2010
» 2009
» 2008
Vol. 57, Issue 4
Vol. 57, Issue 3
Vol. 57, Issue 2
Vol. 57, Issue 1
» 2007
» Back issues (full texts)
  in Google
» Back issues (full texts)
  in Google Ecology
» Back issues in ETERA
Keemia. Geoloogia
Subscription Information
Internet Links
Support & Contact
» Other Journals
» Staff

Minerals sustainability, emerging economies, the developing world and the ‘truth’ behind the rhetoric; pp. 57–74

(Full article in PDF format) doi:10.3176/earth.2008.2.01


Michael G. Petterson


This paper reviews the principles and applications of sustainable development as applied to minerals (sustainable minerals). The key pillars of sustainable minerals are well known and include economic, community, environmental, and political considerations. The ideal solution is one that finds a balance between community benefit, economic development, profit, and minimal negative environmental and political impacts. This is, of course, fine in theory but in the ‘real world’ difficult to achieve. From a geoscience perspective this paper argues that non-private sector geoscientists have a crucial role to play in developing the sustainable minerals paradigm to an intellectually mature and usable form. The geoscience approach includes re-interpreting the rich legacy of geoscience data and acquisition of new data (geological mapping, 3 and 4D modelling, geophysical and geo­chemical information) and contextualizing this information with socio-economic and environmental data (e.g. ethnicity, social mix, wealth indicators, environmental sensitivity indicators) to assist with strategic and localized decision-making, maximizing benefits, and minimizing adverse impacts. This approach also involves modelling the full lifecycle of minerals, mines, mineral commodities, and mineral-bearing land in an attempt to quantify benefits and disbenefits of mineral extraction. One crucial key element of a sustainable minerals approach is a mix between ‘hard’ science and social science and genuine inclusion and consultation with stakeholders, especially impacted communities. As geoscientists we are in a position to explain clearly the benefits of mineral development to society and the disbenefits of ‘nimbyism’ (e.g. exporting problems to countries less able to manage mineral extraction) and promote a ‘custodianship’ ethos of mineral development that is the only way to realizing the key principle of sustainability, i.e. leaving the planet in a state that our grandchildren can enjoy.


sustainable development, minerals, geoscience, copper, coal, aggregates, developed and developing world.


[Anonymous]. 2000 February 10. The Baia Mare gold mine cyanide spill: causes , impacts and liability. El Pais (see also http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/ACOS-64CNGF?OpenDocument).

 Bringezu , S. & Schutz , H. 2001. Material Use Indicators for the European Union , 1980–1997. Office for the Official Publications of the European Communities , Luxembourg. Report No 2/2001/B/2 , 109 pp.

Bristow , C. R. , Highley , D. E. , Barton , C. M. & Cowley , J. F. 2002. Mineral Resources of East Dorset. BGS Commissioned Report CR/01/138N (for DTLR) , Publication of the British Geological Survey , 89 pp.

[BGS] British Geological Survey. 2002a. World Mineral Statistics (Database from 1913). 98 pp.

[BGS] British Geological Survey. 2002b. United Kingdom Minerals Yearbook 2001. British Geological Survey , 98 pp.

Coleman , T. W. & Perales , A. 1998. The Boliden , Apirsa , Los Frailes Tailings Incident. Report of the Mining and Environment Research Network (MERN) , University of Bath , UK , 26 pp.

Dasgupta , P. 2002. Are We Consuming Enough? Conflicting Intuitions Regarding Consumption. 12th Economic and Social Research Council Annual Lecture http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ESRCInfoCentre/about/CI/CP/research_publications/
index1.aspx?ComponentId= 5055&SourcePageId=9261 (accessed 21 May 2008).

Forbes , I. , Bridges , T. , Kadow , E. et al. 1996. Whar a Candel Will Not Burn. The Story of Park Level Mine. Killhope , Co Durham , UK. Durham County Council publication , 49 pp.

Harrison , D. J. , Bloodworth , A. J. , Eyre , J. M. , Macfarlane , M. , Mitchell , C. J. , Scott , P. J. & Steadman , E. J. 2002. Utilisation of Minerals Waste: Case Studies. British Geo­logical Survey Commissioned Report , CR/02/227N , 92 pp.

Healy , C. 1997. The Impact of Mining on Local Communities and the Environment. Social Impact Assessment in Gold Mining: Problems and Opportunities. Paper presented at the Suriname Mining Conference , Paramaribo , January 1997 , organized by the Society of Economists in Suriname.

[IIED] International Institute for Environment and Development. 2002. Breaking New Ground (the Global Mining Initiative): Mining , Minerals and Sustainable Development. Earthscan Publications Ltd , London and Sterling VA , 441 pp.

Kernot , C. 1993. British Coal: Prospecting for Privatisation. Woodhead Publishing Ltd , Cambridge , UK , 248 pp.

Lipscomb , A. , McKinnon , R. & Murray , J. 1998. Papua New Guinea , a Lonely Planet Guidebook. Lonely Planet Publications , Victoria , Australia , 380 pp.

McIntosh , A. 1990. Origins of the Bougainville Crisis. Radical Scotland , 44 , 18–22.

[LMC] Lihir Management Company. 1996. Lihir-socio-economic impact. Mining Environmental Management , March 1996 , 4–8.

[OGM] Omai Gold Mines Ltd. 1996. Guyana: recovery led by mining. Mining Journal , 1996 , 6. Sept. , 8–9.

Obendorfer , T. 2002. Quarry project permission in Austria under environment impact assessment law – experiences and conclusions. In Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on Environmental Issues and Waste Manage­ment in Energy and Mineral Production Oct 7–10 , 2002 (Ciccu , R. , ed.) , pp. 195–202. Cagliaria , Italy.

McConchie , D. , Clark , F. , Davies-McConchie , F. & Fergusson , L. 2002. The use of Bauxsol technology to treat acid rock drainage. Mining Environmental Management , July 2002 , 12–13.

Roberts , J. 1995. The Web Enquirer , ‘Mining the Lands of the Rainforest and Tundra: How fish swam around cyanide in their river’. http://inquirer.gn.apc.org/guyana.html


Current Issue: Vol. 67, Issue 3 in Press, 2018

Publishing schedule:

No. 1: 20 March
No. 2: 20 June
No. 3: 20 September
No. 4: 20 December