tommy.jensen@sbs.su.se johan.sandstrom@ltu.se

Modular and movable – smart and sustainable?


We’re reading the magazine for the Euro Mine Expo 2018 in Skellefteå, Sweden, a fair and conference for the mining industry that just recently closed (we didn’t participate).

It’s always interesting to study what the industry itself considers to be salient issues and themes. The themes of the conference were innovation and business development, sustainability in action, and future outlook. Most of the magazine consists of ads of rather traditional character, pushing products and services with a technical jargon. One full-page ad on “modular space premises” stood out, however (see the picture heading this post). “The future is changing. Modular and movable”. Overall, our experiences echo this, and in a way it captures an important issue, and tension, in mining today, at least in the contexts of our project.

An industry highly tied to a particular place is changing its ‘spatial fix’, which, again, is one reason for why it is such an exciting industry to study. MCA in Saskatchewan has already broken the link between mine and (a nearby) community, which enables some people to stay in their local, small and remote communities in northern Saskatchewan. In Kiruna, however, the situation is different and the future seem less certain in terms of where the (decreasing) workforce can/will live.

Later in the ad it is concluded that modular space premises are “smart and sustainable”, but that is a debatable claim; a claim possible only within a more narrow win-win capitalist perspective. One important question to be asked and discussed: smart and sustainable, in what way, for whom?