Mining and sustainable development: territorializing the mining industry

  • Paulo De Sa
Original Paper


The mining industry today faces a new set of environmental, social, economic, and political challenges. Despite efforts deployed by companies to improve their sustainable practices, and the proliferation of international initiatives aiming at enhanced sector management governance, mining is again being challenged. Centralized management and contradictory legal and institutional arrangements governing public sector institutions—especially the relation between the mining and the environmental authorities—create tensions between central governments and subnational authorities, mandated to manage territories in the context of decentralization. Given the lack of alignment in dealing with mining’s environmental, socio-economic, and territorial impacts, central government’s top-down decisions are becoming difficult to enforce. The politic dimension of the environmental and social impact assessment processes, in the context of poor inter-institutional coordination, accentuated the lack of trust in the formal procedures of consultation and increased the number of conflicts around projects. Revenue sharing mechanisms introduced by central governments to reduce tensions mostly failed to achieve their objectives. On the contrary, they often created new sources of conflict. To overcome this challenge, mining legislation must be harmonized with other sectors and adapted to territorial management. This requires participatory approaches to define integrated legal and institutional frameworks to manage the territories’ natural resources in the context of coherent decentralization processes. It also calls for the aligned intervention of different levels of government using the Municipality as the relevant coordination space.


Sustainable development Mining policy Revenue sharing Decentralization Territorial order 

JEL Classification

L72 – Mining, Extraction, and Refining: other nonrenewal resources L78 – Government Policy O2 – Development Planning and Policy Q3 – Nonrenewable resources and Conservation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BethesdaUSA

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