Sustainable Development Criteria and Indicators for the Assessment of Rare Earth Element Mining Projects

Sotiris N. Kamenopoulos, Deborah Shields, Zacharias Agioutantis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Rare earth elements (REEs) are recognized globally as being strategic and critical minerals. Therefore, assessment of the sustainability of REE mining projects is of particular interest to many stakeholders. Currently, there is a lack of information regarding the assessment of REE mining projects from a sustainability point of view. The best method to assess REE mining projects is to use measurable qualitative and/or quantitative indicators. Rare earth element mining projects are characterized by specific particularities as well as the potential presence of radiation. Thus, there is a need for a set of REE-specific criteria and indicators to supplement Global Reporting Initiative-based indicators. This chapter identifies existing indicator sets and lays out the importance of effective communication in estimating a mine's contribution to sustainable development and gaining the social license to operate. Then, 31 criteria and indicators are proposed to support a decision on the sustainability of REE mining projects. The proposed and selected criteria and indicators can be used by stakeholders and assist decision and policy makers, and can also be used to estimate baseline conditions for social, economic, environmental, geopolitical, and technological aspects for REE development.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRare Earths Industry
Subtitle of host publicationTechnological, Economic, and Environmental Implications
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780128023280
StatePublished - Sep 22 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Criteria and indicators
  • GRI
  • Stakeholder communications
  • Sustainable REE mining
  • UN Sustainable development guidelines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (all)


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