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 sus-
tainable development focus on the challenge of managing economic and environmental issues, leaving
the social side of the equation less well-de
ned. The article expands on the concept of social sustain-
ability 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 speci
c 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 un-
derstanding 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 opportu-
nities, prosperity and better service-structure.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)61-68
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Dec 2015
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed