Legitimizing Business?: Environmental Awareness in the Norwegian Mining Industry

Part of the Springer Polar Sciences book series (SPPS)


This chapter discusses proactive environmental management practices in the mining industry in Norway. Compared to its neighboring countries, Norway’s mining industry is relatively underdeveloped and faces increasing societal demands for social responsibility and sustainability. Environmental management systems and voluntary environmental reporting are common ways for the industry to meet these demands and to increase its legitimacy. Society’s demands are assumed to be related to processes of environmental reform as outlined by the Theory of Ecological Modernization, but we also present theories criticizing this perspective. Some argue, for instance, that a focus on environmental reform draws attention away from the ‘sacrifice zones’ that are created in areas of heightened environmental pollution. We examine the efforts of mineral producers in Norway to realize the industry’s ambitions in “sustainable mining” and “green mining” and conclude that despite individual attempts to make the industry more sustainable, this is far from being achieved. Environmental management practices appear to be more reactive than proactive and hence have not yet been able to meet society’s demands.


Voluntary environmental reporting Legitimacy Proactive management Environmental management standards Ecological modernization Sacrifice zones 


  1. Bennett, M., & James, P. (1998). Environment under the spotlight – current practice and future trends in environment-related performance measurements for business. London: Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.Google Scholar
  2. Berger, G., Flynn, A., Hines, F., & Johns, R. (2001). Ecological modernization as a basis for environmental policy: Current environmental discourse and policy and the implications on environmental supply chain management. The European Journal of Social Science Research, 14(1), 55–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Berthelot, S., Cormier, D., & Magnan, M. (2003). Environmental disclosure research: Review and synthesis. Journal of Accounting Literature, 22, 1–44.Google Scholar
  4. Bland, A. (2014). The environmental disaster that is the gold industry in Smithsonian magazine. Available on: Accessed Sept 2016.
  5. Bodø Science Park. (2012). Fakta om Mineraler Nord-Norge.Google Scholar
  6. Bridge, G. (2004). Contested terrain: Mining and the environment. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 29, 205–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bullard, R. D. (2005). The quest for environmental justice: Human rights and the politics of pollution. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.Google Scholar
  8. Buttel, F. (1992). Environmentalization: Origins, processes and implications for rural social change. Rural Sociology, 57(1), 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carter, N. (2001). The politics of the environment: Ideas, activism, policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cho, C. H., & Patten, D. M. (2007). The role of environmental disclosures as tools of legitimacy: A research note. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 32(7/8), 639–647.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Christoff, P. (1996). Ecological modernization: Ecological modernities. Environmental Politics, 5(3), 476–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fonseca, A. (2010). How credible are mining corporations’ sustainability reports? A critical analysis of external assurance under the requirements of the International Council on Mining and Metals. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 17, 355–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fox, J. (1999). Mountaintop removal in West Virginia. Organization & Environment, 12(2), 163–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Franzefoss Minerals. (2014). Miljørapport. Available on: Accessed Feb 2016.
  15. Giddens, A. (1990). The consequences of modernity. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  16. Goldenman, G. (1999). The environmental implications of foreign direct investment: Policy and institutional issues. Paper prepared for OECD conference on Foreign Direct Investment and Environment.Google Scholar
  17. Gray, R., Javad, M., Power, D. M., & Sinclair, C. (2001). Social and environmental disclosure and corporate characteristics: A research note and extension. Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, 28(3–4), 327–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hedges, C., & Sacco, J. (2012). Day of destruction of revolt. New York: Nation Books.Google Scholar
  19. Hønneland, G. (2010). Borderland Russians: Identity, narrative and international relations. Basingstoke: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Isenmann, R., & Bey, C. (2007). Environmental reporting on the internet: From a technical tool to a strategic necessity. In R. Sroufe & J. Sarkis (Eds.), Strategic sustainability – the state of the art in corporate environmental management systems. Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing.Google Scholar
  21. ISO. (2015). ISO 14001 key benefits. Geneva: Central Secretariat.Google Scholar
  22. Jänicke, M., & Weidner, H. (Eds.). (1997). National environmental policies: A comparative study on capacity building. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  23. KPMG. (2008). KPMG international survey of corporate responsibility reporting 2008. Amstelveen: KPMG Sustainability Services.Google Scholar
  24. Kremers, J. (1986). The Dutch disease in the Netherlands. In J. P. Neary & S. van Wijnbergen (Eds.), Natural resources and the macroeconomy (pp. 96–136). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  25. Lerner, S. (2010). Sacrifice zones: The front lines of toxic chemical exposure in the United States. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  26. Lodhia, S., & Hess, N. (2014). Sustainability accounting and reporting in the mining industry: Current literature and directions for future research. Journal of Cleaner Production, 84, 43–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Marshall, R. S., & Brown, D. (2003). Corporate environmental reporting: What’s in a metric? Business Strategy and the Environment, 12(2), 87–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Marshall, R. S., Brown, D., & Plumlee, M. (2007). Negotiated transparency? Corporate citizenship engagement and environmental disclosure. The Journal of Corporate Citizenship. Winter 2007, 28, 43–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Milne, M. J., & Gray, R. (2013). W(h)ither ecology? The triple bottom line, the global reporting initiative, and corporate sustainability reporting. Journal of Business Ethics, 118(1), 13–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mining & Mineral Cluster Norway. (2016). Targets and sub-goals. Available on: Accessed Jan 2016.
  31. Mol, A. (2001). Ecological modernization: Globalization and environmental reform: The ecological modernization of the global economy. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  32. Mol, A. (2009). Ecological modernization: Environmental deinstitutionalization in Russia. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 11(3), 223–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Norsk Bergindustri. (2011). Scenarier Norsk Bergindustri mot 2025: Ligger framtiden i grus? En framtidsstudie mot år 2025 om bergindustri og samfunnsansvar. Oslo: Bedriftsøkonomisk Institutt: Nydalen.Google Scholar
  34. Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry. (2013). Strategy for the mineral industry. Available on: Accessed Sept 2015.
  35. Owen, D. L. (2007). Assurance practice in sustainability reporting. In J. Unerman, J. Bebbington, & B. O’Dwyer (Eds.), Sustainability accounting and accountability. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Pepper, D. (1998). Sustainable development and ecological modernization: A radical homocentric perspective. Sustainable Development, 6, 1–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Poncelet, E. C. (2001). Personal transformation in multistakeholder environmental partnership. Policy Sciences, 34(3–4), 273–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Prno, J., & Slocombe, S. D. (2012). Exploring the origins of ‘social license to operate’ in the mining sector: Perspectives from governance and sustainability theories. Resources Policy, 37, 346–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sandweiss, S. (1998). The social construction of environmental justice. In D. E. Camacho (Ed.), Environmental injustices, political struggles. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Schnaiberg, A., & Gould, K. A. (1994). Environment and society; the enduring conflict. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  41. Scott, R. R. (2010). Removing mountains: Extracting nature and identity in the Appalachian coalfields. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  42. Spaargaren, G., Mol, A., & Buttel, F. (2000). Environment and global modernity. London: Sage Publications Ltd.Google Scholar
  43. Sroufe, R., & Sarkis, J. (Eds.). (2007). Strategic sustainability. The state of the art in corporate environmental management systems. Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing.Google Scholar
  44. Store Norske Spitsbergen Gruvekompani. (2014). Miljøårsrapport 2014. Available on: Accessed Feb 2016.
  45. SustainAbility. (2015). Sustainability incorporated: Integrating sustainability into business: A guide for sustainability practioners. New York: Scholar
  46. Tittle, C. R. (1980). Sanction and social deviance: A question of deterrence. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  47. Veidekke ASA. (2014). Samfunnsansvarsrapport. Available on: Accessed Feb 2016.
  48. Vormedal, I., & Ruud, A. (2009). Sustainability reporting in Norway – an assessment of performance in the context of legal demands and socio-political drivers. Business Strategy and the Environment, 18, 207–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Vries, G., Terwel, B. W., Ellemers, N., & Daamen, D. D. L. (2015). Sustainability or profitability? How communicated motives for environmental policy affect public perceptions of corporate greenwashing. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 22(3), 142–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. WCED. (1987). Our common future. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Weber, O. (2007). Factors influencing the implementation of environmental management systems, practices and performance. In R. Sroufe & J. Sarkis (Eds.), Strategic sustainability – the state of the art in corporate environmental management systems. Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing.Google Scholar
  52. White, R. (2013). Resource extraction leaves something behind: Environmental justice and mining. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 2(1), 50–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Whitmore, A. (2006). The emperors new clothes: Sustainable mining? Journal of Cleaner Production, 14, 309–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Barents InstituteUiT - The Arctic University of NorwayKirkenesNorway
  2. 2.Faculty of Social ScienceNord UniversityBodøNorway

Personalised recommendations