Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 40, Issue 6, pp 2635–2655 | Cite as

Effective integrated frameworks for assessing mining sustainability

  • K. M. Virgone
  • M. Ramirez-Andreotta
  • J. Mainhagu
  • M. L. BrusseauEmail author
Review Paper


The objectives of this research are to review existing methods used for assessing mining sustainability, analyze the limited prior research that has evaluated the methods, and identify key characteristics that would constitute an enhanced sustainability framework that would serve to improve sustainability reporting in the mining industry. Five of the most relevant frameworks were selected for comparison in this analysis, and the results show that there are many commonalities among the five, as well as some disparities. In addition, relevant components are missing from all five. An enhanced evaluation system and framework were created to provide a more holistic, comprehensive method for sustainability assessment and reporting. The proposed framework has five components that build from and encompass the twelve evaluation characteristics used in the analysis. The components include Foundation, Focus, Breadth, Quality Assurance, and Relevance. The enhanced framework promotes a comprehensive, location-specific reporting approach with a concise set of well-defined indicators. Built into the framework is quality assurance, as well as a defined method to use information from sustainability reports to inform decisions. The framework incorporates human health and socioeconomic aspects via initiatives such as community-engaged research, economic valuations, and community-initiated environmental monitoring.


Sustainability Mining Indicators Environmental impact 



The authors would like to thank the Arizona International Human–Environment Observatory (OHMI), the French CNRS Institute of Ecology and Environment (INEE), the CNRS Institute of the Social Sciences (INSHS), the Center for Environmentally Sustainable Mining (CESM), the NIEHS Superfund Program (P42 ES04940), and the Water, Environmental, and Energy Solutions (WEES) Program of The University of Arizona for financial support to this project. We also thank Dr. Franck Poupeau for his support of the project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. M. Virgone
    • 1
  • M. Ramirez-Andreotta
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. Mainhagu
    • 1
  • M. L. Brusseau
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Soil, Water, and Environmental Science Department, School of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Division of Community, Environment and Policy, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public HealthUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  3. 3.Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences Department, School of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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