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Can sustainability management increase social acceptance for mining?

Published: 25 April 2019

Improved sustainability performance; socially, environmentally and economically. This is the purpose of the project "Walk the talk", a collaboration between Luleå University of Technology and Swedish the mining industry.

– The social acceptance for the mining industry has decreased in the last 20 years. This has led to an increased pressure on the mining industry to take greater responsibility. Having a structured sustainability management is important for credibility and shows that you work with the issues in a serious way, says Helena Ranängen, researcher in Quality technology and logistics at Luleå University of Technology and project manager for "Walk the talk – sustainability management system for social acceptance".

Interviews with stakeholders

The project is funded by Vinnova within the strategic innovation program SIP STRIM and is carried out in collaboration with the mining and metal company Boliden and Svemin AB, an industry association of mines, mineral and metal producers.

Helena Ranängen and her colleague Åsa Lindman, researcher in economics, have conducted a survey and made interviews with stakeholders who, in various ways, are affected by mining activities. Among the stakeholders are persons in the reindeer herding industry, local residents, landowners, authorities, environmental organizations, employees and business partners.

The researchers have wanted to get a broad view of the various stakeholders' views on sustainability linked to the mining industry, including in terms of the environment, occupational health and safety, human rights, community involvement and development.

– For the stakeholders, all aspects of sustainability are of great importance. That companies in the mining industry minimize their environmental impact and respect laws and regulations and live up to their permits are seen as very important issues, says Helena Ranängen.

The main goal of the project is to develop and integrate a sustainability management system that is based on stakeholders' needs and expectations and complements existing operational management systems. Helena Ranängen emphasizes the importance of having a structured approach to sustainability aspects throughout the organization.

Incorporate sustainability aspects

– We are now entering a new phase in the project and have started building a sustainability management system based on the results we have. We will incorporate more sustainability aspects into existing management systems that today include the environment, occupational health and safety and energy. We will work with all aspects in the same structured way, with goals, steering documentation and follow-up. It will be very exciting to go from theory to practice, she says, adding:
– We believe that a sustainability management system creates value for both the mining industry and the stakeholders affected by it. It also sends a signal to mining companies in an establishing process. Having a serious sustainability management creates credibility and transparency and can lead to increased acceptance for the industry.


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