In a high-tech society, material supply is a strategic issue in order to drive technology development forward. However, the mining and mineral extraction industries need to develop in a sustainable direction, environmentally, socially and economically. Therefore, the unique research project ‘Mining in a sustainable future’ has been launched, a collaboration between the Stockholm Environment Institute and the Swemin trade association in Sweden.

The Swedish mining industry has a long-term intention to play an active role in the shift towards a sustainable society. The Swedish mining industry and the value-chains it supplies want to stay at the forefront of technological and innovative development in the transformation to a sustainable society, which will probably affect its operations and business models deeply. A sustainable future will need materials from the mining sector in a lot of application concerning for example sustainable energy supply and electrification of formerly fossil-based economic activities. Yet the current footprint and operations of the mining sector are far from sustainable in most cases. This project aims to take a closer look at the interactions between society’s and the mining sector’s sustainable transformation, by exploring the possible futures of a sustainable Swedish mining sector in an uncertain world.

The project includes a number of questions:

  1. How can the mining and mineral extraction industry be part of the overall sustainable transformation of our society?
  2. How can the industry continue to contribute to economic development while contributing to the Sustainable Development Agenda?
  3. How can the industry be a driving force for change, rather than just responding to social change?

In order to capture key uncertainties for the Swedish mining industry in the upcoming decades and to explore both opportunities and threats for the mining-related sectors, the project will build on the explorative global and industry-wide scenarios. The first workshop with researchers and industry representatives, scheduled for May 18th, will re-develop and narrow these scenarios. The work will continue with participants living in these scenarios and creating business models and other planning tools, resulting in a action program, which could act as roadmap for a sustainable Swedish mining sector.