Social sustainability in northern mining communities: A study of the European North and Northwest Russia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

  • Gregory A. Poelzer
  • Thomas Ejdemo
  • Elena Klyuchnikova
  • Elena Korchak
  • Vigdis Nygaard


Social sustainability, one of the three pillars of the sustainable development framework, presents a challenging theoretical and empirical concept to investigate. Many of the prominent debates on sustainable development focus on the challenge of managing economic and environmental issues, leaving the social side of the equation less well-defined. The article expands on the concept of social sustainability through a qualitative study of mining projects in the European North and Northwest Russia, utilizing over 80 thematic interviews in local communities.
In our approach social sustainability is understood two dimensional: procedural and contextual. Procedural social sustainability refers to the planning and decision-making of the mining process during mining operations. Contextual social sustainability covers the specific features of the locality including historical experiences of extractive industries and future visions of the community. From the procedural perspective there were two general themes important for the local communities: knowledge and understanding of environmental changes caused by mining and second, the ability to be heard and have an impact on decisions about mining operation. From contextual dimension of social sustainability the main dilemma in Northern communities is between the fear and even anxiety of negative environmental impacts and viability of Northern localities generated by mining providing e.g. employment opportunities, prosperity and better service-structure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-68
Number of pages8
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Dec 2015
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed