Mining in the Arctic environment: A review from ecological, socioeconomic and legal perspectives

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleScientificpeer-review

  • Anne Tolvanen
  • Pasi Eilu
  • Artti Juutinen
  • Katja Kangas
  • Mari Kivinen
  • Mira Markovaara-Koivisto
  • Arto Naskali
  • Seija Tuulentie


The development of mining and other resource-based industries are among key drivers of economic development in the Arctic. The fragile environment and the presence of nature-based livelihoods and indigenous communities pose challenges for mining development. Mining operations should be optimized so that the profitability is maintained in changing market conditions and to meet increasing societal and environmental demands. In this study we present the current understanding on the interplay between mining and the surrounding socio-ecological systems in the Arctic region. The existing academic literature on the Arctic region was reviewed, covering 127 peer-reviewed publications since 2000. We investigated the mining activities from four perspectives examining: 1) environmental, 2) economic, 3) social and 4) legal dimensions, covering three life-cycle stages: 1) pre-mining, 2) mining, and 3) post-mining. The publications on the environmental and economic aspects focused principally on the impacts of mining, whereas social and legal publications discussed the interaction between people and their rights and ways of controlling their environment. Besides the need for more balanced research between different life-cycle stages we uncovered five research gaps concerning the knowledge base needed to increase the sustainability of Arctic mining: 1) impacts and adaptation to climate change, 2) monitoring the sustainability of mining using standardized indicators, 3) holistic economic assessment of mining, 4) social sustainability and conflict management, and 5) mechanisms that mitigate or compensate for the adverse effects of mining on biodiversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)832-844
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019
MoEC publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal