arctic mines map
Mining is important across the circumpolar north. The map shows mining sites registered as productive in 2011 by the US Geological Survey. Some of the mines have closed and new mines opened in the intervening time.

The Arctic holds abundant mineral resources, and mining has played an important role in industrial and economic development in many parts of the region. As in other mineral-rich parts of the world, exploration has intensified in the past decade, driven mainly by high international mineral prices and expectations that demand will continue to increase.

The impacts of mining activity are felt differently on different scales. Mining can be an important source of revenue for national governments, and a local provider of jobs and income, but it can have highly visible effects on the local environment, and repercussions for other economic activities such as reindeer herding. At the same time, mining activity is highly uncertain, vulnerable to global factors, particularly market dynamics, that can force mines to close.

This brief seeks to locate mining in northern Europe in a global context, with a focus on sustainability concerns and changing power relationships in faraway places that may also affect mining activities in the region. The brief focuses on copper and iron, which are base metals with significant reserves in northern Europe. It is intended primarily for planners and policy-makers who want to understand the changing global context within which local plans for base metals mining takes place. It is based on a review of grey and academic literature.

Download the discussion brief (PDF, 1.5MB)