Can Mining Help Deliver the SDGs: Discourses, Risks and Prospects

Tomas Frederiksen, Glenn Banks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we explore the mining sector’s potential to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by examining its past engagement with sustainable development. Once a pariah, the mining industry is now very active in the sustainability space and played a key role in the development of the SDGs. In this paper, we first examine two key texts in evolving institutional frameworks: the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development (MMSD) Project and the recent Mapping Mining to the SDGs, highlighting their limited framing of sustainable development. Then, we examine how sustainable development concerns and voluntary standards have been translated into practice by mining companies. Analysing this history and track record shows an approach to sustainable development which sidesteps contradictions at the heart of the mining industry’s production processes, all of which bode ill for their potential to contribute meaningfully to the SDGs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-106
Number of pages24
JournalThe Journal of Environment & Development
Issue number1
Early online date28 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023


  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • extractive industry
  • mining
  • sustainable development
  • voluntary standards


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