Policy and Business Efforts for the Reduced Impact of Mining on Nature: When Historical Studies Have Something to Offer Policy Makers

Technol Cult. 2019;60(1):192-218. doi: 10.1353/tech.2019.0006.


In this article, we study the interaction of nature and technology in terms of policy and business activities in Sweden during the 1970s and 1980s. These activities aimed to reduce the impact of the mining industry on the natural environment while maintaining industrial competitiveness. In order to address this challenge, it was and still is important to identify ways that businesses can promote sustainable development without hazarding their continued operations and investments. Here, the design and implementation of environmental regulations are of central importance. This study relies on a rich set of documents related to 1970s and 1980s environmental licensing processes of the operations of the two largest mining companies in Sweden, Boliden AB and LKAB, both situated close to the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden. Historians have much to offer policymakers, and this article demonstrates that good examples that permit us to reflect on future pathways for policy design can not only be found in other countries' current policy, but also further back in time.