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Resources Policy 35 (2010) 226234

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Resources Policy
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/resourpol

A SWOT analysis of environmental management practices in Greek Mining and Mineral Industry
I.E. Nikolaou a, K.I. Evangelinos b,n
a b

Department of Environmental Engineering, Democritus University of Thrace, 67100 Xanthi, Greece Department of Environment, University of the Aegean, 81100 Mytilini, Greece

a r t i c l e in f o
Article history: Received 15 February 2009 Received in revised form 16 February 2010 Accepted 16 February 2010 JEL classications: Q57 L71 M14 Keywords: Environmental management practices Mining and mineral industry SWOT analysis Greece

a b s t r a c t
Over the last two decades, mining and mineral exploration companies have adopted various environmental management practices in response to societys pressure for better environmental protection. The literature highlights a number of benets and challenges for companies adopting environmental management practices with the Greek Mining and Mineral Industry (GMMI) facing similar issues. In order to analyze the challenges faced by the GMMI, a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis was conducted, which examined the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats faced by the industry when adopting environmental management practices. The analysis prescribes policy recommendations both for the government and industry which, if adopted, could facilitate improved environmental performance. & 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Introduction In an effort to promote cleaner production and environmental management tools in the mining industry, certain countries both industrialized and industrializing have revamped sectorspecic environmental regulations. On one side, industrialized countries such as Canada and the USA have enacted strict environmental regulations for mining companies such as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (Hilson, 2000a). On the other side, industrializing countries have also prepared environmental regulation but there are some important weaknesses such as a lack of clear, supportive plans for facilitating waste minimization and incompleteness of present regulatory frameworks. To respond to these increasing environmental regulations, mining and mineral companies have adopted environmental management practices. These have helped companies minimize their impacts on the environment. For instance, Suppen et al. (2006) refer to certain Mexican mining companies that have adopted environmental management tools with very signicant

Corresponding author. Tel.: + 30 2251 0 36292; fax: +30 2251 0 36254. E-mail addresses: inikol@env.duth.gr (I.E. Nikolaou), kevag@aegean.gr (K.I. Evangelinos). 0301-4207/$ - see front matter & 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.resourpol.2010.02.002

environmental improvements. In the same sense, Newbold (2006) pays more attention to holistic environmental management systems (EMSs), which are designed to help [mining] companies manage their environmental responsibilities and liabilities. Apart from deriving environmental benets, authors also examine the relationship of these practices with accountability issues. Driussi and Jansz (2006) highlight that the adoption by Australian mining companies of specic management practices such as environmental management systems (EMSs), pollution control technologies, environmental education programs for staff and other strategies may assist them to improve their accountability in relation to environmental issues. The lessons of other countries on the benets and obstacles of environmental management practices are followed in different ways by the Greek Mining and Mineral Industry (GMMI). Recently, several Greek medium and large-scale mining companies have introduced environmental considerations into their strategic management as a result of the current environmental regulatory framework as well as in response to societys requirements for environmental quality maintenance. The Greek mining industry has responded to these challenges by introducing environmental management practices or holistic environmental management systems mainly to restore environmentally depreciated operation sites, by eliminating the use of environmental resources, managing waste production, eliminating water use and

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controlling other environmental impacts. By implementing such management practices, some members of the GMMI state, in environmental reports and internet sites, that the environmental management practices they adopted have assisted them to gain the social licence to operate from local communities. However, there are a signicant number of obstacles to the implementation of such practices, including short-run compliance costs and a low level of environmental awareness by staff. Thus, this paper utilizes a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis to examine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for the GMMI in implementing environmental management strategies. The data were taken from the environmental reports of GMMI and annual environmental reports published by the Greek Association of Minerals and Mining Industry. Finally, the results of this method are utilized to prepare specic environmental policies for the GMMI. The remainder of the paper is divided to the following sections: (a) the global experience regarding mining and mineral environmental management practices is described in the Environmental management practices of the mining and mineral industry: a short review of the global experience section, (b) the Greek experience of mining and mineral environmental management practices is presented in the Environmental management practices of the mining and mineral industry: the Greek experience section, (c) the basic steps of methodology are demonstrated in the Methodology section, including the steps of the analysis, sample selection and the SWOT analysis, (d) policy recommendations are presented in the Policy and strategies recommendations section and (e) conclusions are discussed in the Conclusions section.

Environmental management practices of the mining and mineral industry: a short review of the global experience Environmental management practices can be divided to two major categories based on the mandatory or voluntary character of the driving forces. The rst category encompasses the environmental management practices of the mining companies resulting from the pressure from command and control and

market-based instruments. The second category includes those environmental management practices that the mining industry adopts on a voluntary basis. Furthermore, another useful distinction for environmental management practices is the period in which these practices are applied, namely ex ante or ex post environmental management practices. The environmental management practices of the mining companies to restore the physical environment are applied at the end of the production process and could be considered as ex post. This category includes environmental management practices based mainly on the idea of the rehabilitation of mining environmental damage and is principally a result of the regulatory regime, thus may be considered as reactive actions. The other category encompasses environmental management practices that mining and mineral industries adopt to maintain a good level of environmental quality and can be classied as an ex ante practice and may be considered as more proactive. Although this distinction is very difcult to dene in the case of the mining industry, it may be a useful framework for making relevant literature clearer and manageable. Following this rationale, Table 1 indicates the basic mining and mineral environmental management practices. The rows illustrate the environmental management practices of the mining industry as a result of either mandatory or voluntary measures, while the columns classify these practices according to the period in which they are applied. In particular, the rst quadrant (A) includes mining environmental management practices as compliance with environmental regulatory requirements to predict environmental impacts (ex ante activities). The second quadrant (B) relates to an environmental regulatory framework like the Comprehensive Environmental Response, the Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the European Mine Waste directive, which classify companies according to the costs of restoration and rehabilitation after environmental damage has taken place. The third quadrant (C) includes voluntary environmental management practices like environmental management systems that mining companies adopt to assure environmental quality. Finally, the last quadrant (D) indicates voluntary environmental activities that are implemented at the end of the extraction procedures or general production procedures.

Table 1 Environmental management practices of mining and mineral industries. Environmental management practices Ex ante (A) Mandatory measures Ex post (B) Authors

 Environmental 
management plan Environmental impact statement report

     

Rehabilitation of mining sites Restoration of ecosystems Payment of nes Payment of taxes Waste management activities Water restoration activities (D)

Annandale (2000), Annandale and Taplin (2003), Macedo et al. (2003), Ghose (2003), Patarmatzi et al. (2005), Damigos (2006), Evangelinos and Oku (2006), Sarrasin (2006)

(C) Voluntary measures

 Environmental    
management systems Life cycle assessment Cradle to grave analysis Environmental accounting Environmental indicators

- Rehabilitation of mining sites,- Restoration of ecosystems,- Investment in local societies projects,- Report environmental performance.

Bomsel et al. (1996), Santos and Zaratan (1997), Hilson and Murck (2000), Peck and Sinding (2003), Azapagic (2004), Jenkins (2004), Mutagwada (2006), Newld (2006), Jenkins and Yakovleva (2006), Suppen et al. (2006), Durucan et al. (2006), Mudd (2007), Carrick and Kruger (2007)

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Environmental management practices of the mining and mineral industry: the Greek experience There are currently more than 600 large- and small-scale mining companies in Greece that contribute about 1.7% of the Gross National Product (Evangelinos and Oku, 2006). The Greek mining and mineral sector employs at least 23,000 people (GMMI Environmental Report, 2007). The most important mineral commodity in Greece is bauxite and the GMMI is also considered the European Union (EU) leader in producing magnesium, nickel and perlite (over 80% of total EU production). However, in Greece, the mining industry stands accused of signicant environmental impacts. Papanicolaou et al. (2004) found, by examination of the 14 most important representative coal basins of Greece (e.g. in Thrace, Eastern Greece and central Greece), signicant amounts of alkalies in the soil, rivers and lakes. Arvanitidis (1998) also states that a mining operation to extract zeolite in Alexandroupolis led to signicant environmental impacts, which triggered a number of environmental management measures, including a ue gas treatment used to remove the remaining mercury and dioxins in the sludge of the incineration plants, a waste water treatment with activated carbon lters and soil protection using layers underneath large industrial areas. To overcome these problems, both the Greek government by enacting mandatory measures and the mining industry by implementing voluntary measures have taken an active role in environmental protection. Key regulations have been enacted to deal with the environmental effects of mining and mineral operations such as

regulations 1180/1981 (Site Arrangement and the Environment), 1360/1983 (Promotion of Investments and Permit Provisions) and 1650/1986 (Environmental Protection). To comply with these regulations, the mining and mineral companies have produced specic environmental impact statement reports to record the present environmental status and future environmental impacts associated with their operations (Appendix A). Some companies have voluntarily adopted environmental management practices to preserve the environment such as environmental management systems (e.g. ISO 14001), alternative uses of operation sites, dust auditing systems, air pollution systems and re safety zones. For example, Aluminum of Greece S.A. has voluntarily adopted ISO 14001, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and air pollution management. Similarly, the mining company Biogyps Kvelis Co. has implemented environmental practices such as site restoration, recycling of materials and air pollution management on a voluntary basis. Additionally, S&B Industrial Minerals S.A. has implemented voluntary measures for site restoration, dust management and water, energy and solid waste management (Detailed information about the GMMI is listed in Appendix A). Methodology Research structure This Methodology section is sub-divided to ve parts (Fig. 1). In the rst part, the research questions are developed. Secondly, four

(5)

(4.2) Research questions development

(4.3) Sample Selection Association of Greek Mining and Mineral Industries

Part I

(4.4) Report Collection and Analysis

(4.5) SWOT analysis

(S) Strengths (4.5.2.1.1)

(W) Weaknesses (4.5.2.1.2)

(O) Opportunities (4.5.2.2.1)

(T) Threats (4.5.2.2.2)

(5) Discussion Policy and Strategy Recommendations

(5) National Level

Part II

Fig. 1. Research methodology structure.

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basic research questions derived from the SWOT analysis are analyzed (Research questions development). Thirdly, the sample of companies examined is justied (Sample selection). The fourth part includes the techniques of environmental reporting analysis (Environmental report collection and analysis). Finally, the fth part presents the SWOT analysis results (SWOT analysis). Research questions development The main research questions of this study are presented derived from the SWOT analysis, as follows: Question 1. What are the strengths of GMMI companies when adopting environmental management practices? The rst question aims to examine the internal strengths that members of the GMMI may have when implementing (or maintaining from pre-existing) environmental management practices. For example, this question aims to nd the benets gained or those that may be faced by a mining company from implementing environmental management practices such as elimination of operational costs, gaining competitive advantage or enhancing market share. Question 2. What are the weaknesses of the GMMI when adopting environmental management practices? The second question examines the weaknesses that those Greek mining companies and the industry in general may face when adopting such environmental management practices. For example, this question refers to limited access to relevant information, lack of funds, current bureaucratic requirements and a lack of appropriate management. Question 3. What are the opportunities of the GMMI when adopting environmental management practices? The third question examines the opportunities companies may face externally when adopting such management practices. This question requires information about challenges such as product attractiveness and new nancial challenges. Question 4. What are the threats for the GMMI when adopting environmental management practices? The last question analyzes the threats to companies when adopting such environmental practices. Specically, this information involves future environmental regulations or additional nancial funds. Sample selection Data were collected using a survey design. A sample comprised of 17 Greek mining and mineral companies was formed based on the GMMI. The sample contains companies that have adopted some type of environmental management practices. The time period examined was 20002008. Environmental report collection and analysis Eight aggregate annual reports and twenty individual environmental reports of the companies selected were examined. These reports were analyzed according to the four research questions. Namely, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for GMMI in adopting environmental management practices are examined based on the aggregate and individual environmental reports. In particular, the evaluation of environmental reports is related to the content analysis technique and SWOT analysis.

Traditionally, content analysis techniques are commonly used to evaluate the annual environmental reports of companies and involve a variety of measurements to quantify the content such as number of statements and number of words. This study used the numbers of statements that indicated strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. However, the ndings of this study were based both on individual company reports and the industrys aggregate environmental reports. Thus, in the Internal parameters section, the categories of SWOT analysis and how companies relate to each of these categories are presented. SWOT analysis Brief review of theoretical background SWOT analysis could be a useful tool for the strategic planning process of environmental management. Lozano and Valles (2007) state that SWOT analysis is widely recognized and it constitutes an important basis for learning about the situation and for designing future procedures which can be seen necessary for thinking in a strategic way. However, the use of this method gives rise to some important advantages and disadvantages. The advantages, for instance, may include the idea that this method is very simple and everybody can use it without having advanced knowledge or external technical support. The disadvantages refer to a variety of shortcomings regarding this method such as its simplistic, static and subjective character. These shortcomings have inuenced the transparency of the results of SWOT analysis. In order to overcome some of these challenges, this study draws information from the annual environmental reports of companies in which they disclosed real and more accurate data and overcame the subjectivity of managers answers, which can be a prevalent problem on similar research efforts. This method identies the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of an implemented plan (or management strategy/ practice) or for a new plan that will be applied in the future. Firstly, the strengths of a plan may be the advantages for an organization in implementing a plan or the benets that arise from one already implemented by the organization. Secondly, the weaknesses of the plan could be obstacles that should be avoided in order for an organized plan to respond sufciently to designed goals. Thirdly, it seeks to identify the opportunities associated with the plan and nally, the method detects the threats that will be faced by the implemented plan from external factors. SWOT analysis of the GMMI The data of the SWOT analysis are based on the aggregate environmental reports of GMMI as well as individual environmental reports of member companies as previously stated. The term strengths encompasses advantages and benets from the adoption of environmental management practices. In order to facilitate the ndings of strengths, some typical questions should be answered such as what the advantages of such practices are, what environmental management practices can do well and if there are nancial benets. Similarly, weaknesses would include factors and items that are obstacles in the attempts of companies to adopt any environmental management practices. Some relevant questions could be what is not done properly, what should be improved and what should be avoided. Additionally, opportunities may include external benets for companies from the adoption of environmental management practices. Some important questions are what future benets may occur for companies, what competitive advantages will companies gain and what changes may take place in consumer tastes. Finally, threats may contain future problems and obstacles from the avoidance of implementing any environmental management practices. Some

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Table 2 SWOT analysis and policy recommendations. SWOT analysis Internal Strengths S.1: Costs reductionS.2: Productivity improvementS.2: Innovation development Weakness W.1: Lack of fundsW.2: Bureaucratic requirementsW.3: Lack of management and staff involvement Policy recommendations

State policies PR1: The State should offer specic nancial services to facilitate GMMIs to adopt environmental practicesPR2: The State should prepare essential guidelines to promote environmental practices within GMMIs Association strategies PR3: Seminars for managers and staffs of GMMIs

External

Opportunities O.1: New markets, new consumers and competitive advantagesO.2: Enhanced nancing opportunitiesO.3: ExportsO.4: Public awareness Threats T.1: Additional fundsT.2: Severe future legal requirementsT.3: Lack of broad environmentally friendly clientele

State policies PR4: The State should prepare rational environmental regulations for GMMIsPR5: The State should inform consumers of the environmental practices of GMMIs. Association strategies PR6: Awards for the most environmentally friendly company

useful questions relate to what the future trends are and what the future commitment in relation to these practices is. These factors comprise the context and the sense in which environmental reports are analyzed. This analysis gives rise to a variety of interesting issues that facilitate the discussion in the Policy recommendations section. Additionally, the basic parameters of the following SWOT analysis are separated, as commonly happens in similar research efforts, to two general categories: external and internal. The former category involves strengths and opportunities and the latter encompasses external parameters, e.g. weaknesses and threats (Table 2). Internal parameters Strengths. This section presents the resources and capabilities of GMMI when adopting environmental management practices. It encompasses issues such as advantages of implementing environmental management practices, the best characteristics of practices and factors supporting those practices. Specically, the evaluation of environmental reports of members of GMMI indicates that the most important factors are as follows. Cost reduction: It is generally recognized that environmental management practices assist in reducing the operating costs of companies mainly in the long run. This argument is supported from both aggregate annual reports of GMMI (for the year 2008) and the annual environmental reports of ve members (from 2005 to 2008). In particular, they support the idea that the implementation of such practices incurs considerable savings in the future such as reductions in the cost of energy and raw materials used as well as decreasing the costs of the amount of waste produced. Productivity improvement: The GMMI considers that wellimplemented environmental management practices reduce the use of material resources and, as a consequence, they have better productivity improvements. These elements are particularly found in the environmental reports of all members as well as generally in the annual reports of GMMI for all years (2000 2008). Innovation development: The majority of GMMI invests in new technology as well as in research and development (R&D) environmental programs such as technologies to manage air pollution or dust pollution. These programs benet the image, prots and competitive position of these companies.

Weaknesses. This section includes the weaknesses that the GMMI faces in the attempt to implement environmental management practices. Specically, they face lack of funds, low levels of management and staff environmental awareness, and bureaucratic requirements. Lack of funds: The GMMI states that environmental management practices need high levels of funding. Specically, some companies spend over 20% of their total revenue in adopting environmental measures, employee environmental training and appropriate equipment. Quantitative information for costs and the requirements of environmental management practices implementation is presented very briey. However, three companies in their individual environmental reports as well as the GMMI in the aggregate report refer to the need for additional funds for a good environmental policy. Bureaucratic requirements: The majority of the companies examined claim that the implementation of such practices as well as of holistic environmental management systems entail a variety of bureaucratic requirements not only for the staff of companies environmental departments but also for the overall staff of those companies. Such requirements are the frequent completion of numerous documents and obligatory internal environmental auditing surveys. Approximately 80% of companies highlighted this issue. Lack of management and staff involvement: The staff of the companies examined has low qualications, trust, interest and unclear expectations about supporting environmental practices. The majority of members (approximately 60%) state that they used qualied consultants to train their staff for environmental management issues. External parameters Opportunities. This section describes the opportunities gained by the GMMI in adopting environmental management practices. These are as follows. New markets, new consumers and competitive advantages: The GMMI says that the environmentally responsible attitude of mining companies can provide a competitive advantage due to the fact that they meet the environmental needs of consumers. Additionally, they consider that holistic environmental practices such as EMS may assist GMMI to gain competitive advantages not only over environmentally friendly companies but also over other

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companies of the industry that do not implement corresponding practices. Such information appears only in the aggregate environmental reports of the GMMI, specically for 2008. Enhanced nancing opportunities: Today, there are several nancial opportunities for GMMI, which adopts or is willing to adopt environmental practices. In Greece, the banking sector has developed a variety of new nancial products for both environmentally friendly companies (e.g. better lending criteria) and companies that implement environmental management practices (e.g. cleaner technology funds). In order to enhance their nancial horizons, most members of GMMI have introduced environmental considerations into their management. Relevant information is revealed only in the aggregate environmental report of GMMI. Licence for exports: Additionally, it is necessary for some Greek mining and mineral companies to implement globally recognized and holistic environmental management practices in order to have easy access to foreign markets. In order to accept foreign products, the majority of western countries require companies to gain accredited environmental status from a global organization like the International Organization of Standardization (ISO). This information is common practice for the majority of the member companies that export products (approximately 50%). Public awareness:The main reason for such companies to implement environmental management practices is pressure from the general public for a cleaner environment. The environmental reports of GMMI make reference to a variety of local community complaints about environmental quality. It should be emphasised that all member companies refer to this in their environmental reports Threats. This section discusses the threats those companies will face from the adoption of environmental management practices. Additional nancial funds: These companies consider that the concept of continuous improvement of environmental performance may require additional funding, which will impact on their annual budget. Indeed, the GMMI claims that there is a need for signicant nancial resources for environmental management practices and foresees the need for additional funds in the future (aggregate environmental reports of GMMI, for 2007). Strict future legal requirements: The environmental reports of the companies implicated state that the present and future environmental regulation frameworks are very strict. At the national level, Evangelinos and Oku (2006) nd Greek environmental regulations signicantly impact on the operations of mining companies. At the European level, a range of current legislation and regulations affect the mining industry of Greece as a member state. Some important regulations are 74/326/EEC (Mine Safety), 85/337/EEC (Environmental Impact Assessment), 2001/118/EC (European Waste Catalogue) and nally, the more recent regulation 2006/21/EC (Waste Management of Extractive Industries). Complying with those regulations may impede the design of other important operating and strategic measures. Lack of broad environmentally friendly clientele: The current low level of consumer demand for environmentally friendly products has caused concern to the senior management of companies that have heavily invested in improving environmental quality. Nevertheless, the major focus of those companies is still to identify future demand for environmentally friendly products either in the domestic or foreign markets. This view is revealed from one member (in its annual environmental report of 2006) as a result of the absence of environmental awareness of consumers.

environmental management practices in GMMI and at the association level to stimulate such practices within the member companies (Fig. 1). At the state level, the focus is mainly on proposals for modulating new institutional conditions to assist GMMI to have winwin strategies such as good environmental performance and improved competitive position. At the association level, the idea is for strategies to stimulate GMMI to adopt environmental practices with low informational and nancial costs to be designed. Specic proposals for the state are as follows (Table 2). Specic nancial services to facilitate GMMI to adopt environmental management practices State agencies should design particular nancial incentives such as funding, nancial products and nancial services for stimulating those companies to implement environmental management practices. These policies aim to assist those companies to overcome the barrier of nancing environmental management strategies, a very important point as shown by the SWOT analysis. Such practices are proposed as a common practice for other sectors as well as other countries. Appropriate guidelines to promote environmental practices within the mining and mineral industry The Environmental Agency Department should design a guide to promote basic environmental requirements for the companies that operate in the mining and mineral industry. The potential results of this policy are the supply of adequate information and incentives for those companies within a fair competition framework and common standards, which will incorporate the overall particularities of the Greek economy, environmental status and legal regime. Rational environmental regulations One of the basic objections of the GMMI is the recent strict national and European legal environmental regulations. Those requirements have generated obstacles to GMMI not only to meet the compliance costs associated with environmental practices but also to achieve general nancial goals. To overcome those barriers, the state should reform the current legal regime towards more exible requirements in line with the environmental behavior of such companies. Inform consumers about the environmental performance of the companied involved In recent years, issues such as consumer environmental awareness and demand for environmentally friendly products have gained great momentum. This trend can drive companies to adopt environmental management practices in order to meet the requirements of consumers. This is a corporate strategy that is based on the economic theory for product differentiation and the willingness of consumers to pay a premium in order to obtain a product. Reinhardt (1998) presents two main schools of thought about environmental product differentiation. The rst claims that companies gain competitive advantage by adopting environmental management practices, while the other believes that the positive relation between prots and companies environmental performance is not a panacea. Reinhardt (1998) considers that a signicant factor for supporting something like this is the kind of industry and the existence of an imperfect market environment. Mineral markets do not provide opportunities for product

Policy and strategies recommendations This section aims to analyze a variety of policy recommendations that will be adopted at both the state level in promoting

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differentiation between companies and competition is based mainly on cost. However, the same authors support the idea that the new technological initiatives of mining companies, within environmental imperative, can represent a potential new prot opportunity and a determining factor for companies stock market value. Additionally, some authors and NGOs (e.g. Oxfam-America) support the environmental education of consumers that buy mining and mineral materials (e.g. the Gold campaign). As a result of the new trends of modern globalized markets for green products and the latest environmental regulations for mining industries, some GMMI members have focused on identifying the extent to which consumers are willing to pay for environmentally friendly products and furthermore, to fund green investment. To this end, the government should publish a guide to inform consumers about the benets of buying environmentally friendly products as well as league tables on corporate environmental performance. Additionally, the association should design strategies to promote environmental management practices as follows. Awards for the most environmentally friendly company Today, there are several associations in different sectors or institutions that provide general methods to measure the environmental performance of their members and some of them reward companies with better environmental or sustainable performance. The main goal of those associations is rstly to stimulate their members to begin some type of environmental management practice and secondly to assist their members at least to maintain or to improve environmental performance. Following this trend, GMMI should design appropriate environmental performance measuring systems for its members and award better environmental performers. Seminars for managers and staffs of GMMI companies Some GMMI members have organized seminars for their employees. Although this practice is suitable for large international mining companies, Greek mining companies have limited funds to invest in such activities. Consequently, a good practice for GMMI to educate their employees about environmental management at a low cost is for the GMMI members to organize the seminars themselves.

Conclusions This paper answers four research questions, which highlight the strong and weak points of GMMI in the attempt to implement environmental practices. In answer to the rst question what are the strengths for GMMI when adopting environmental actions?, the majority of GMMI points out that strengths could be cost reduction, productivity improvement and new innovations. Such internal benets related to environmental management practices can assist both economic and environmental performance of those companies. These results are similar to those in general mining literature (Warhurst and Bridge, 1996). To this end, Greek mining companies seem to adopt similar environmental management practices in order to gain benets like those experienced by the industry at an international level. This may be explained by the institutional theory as a mimetic strategy. However, these practices are not without obstacles for those companies concerned. Specically, GMMI states that there are several weaknesses when implementing environmental practices

such as lack of funds, bureaucratic requirements and the low level of employee involvement. These factors play an important role for GMMI to implement environmental management practices effectively. In order to deal with these weaknesses, the policies proposed include the necessity of the state to offer specic nancial services to facilitate the environmental management practices and to prepare essential guides to promote environmental practices and seminars for employees of GMMI. Similarly, international experience comes to the same conclusions. For example, Hilson (2000b) supports that the lack of available funds for environmental management practices is a common barrier faced by the mining industry. Additionally, he states that the implementation of such management practices needs essential environmental training programs for staff and engineers. The third research question is answered though the analysis of the opportunities of GMMI, in relation to environmental management practices. Indeed, GMMI notes that these practices helps it to nd new markets and consumers and gain competitive advantages over non-environmentally friendly companies. It also claims that exports may be enhanced because environmentally friendly production is necessary for European and other western countries. Finally, several companies view good environmental practices as the licence to operate since the general public demand these. Similar results appear in the general mining literature that environmental management practices could assist mining companies to maintain acceptance of products in the worldwide market place as well as gaining client approval (Newbold, 2006). The last research question highlights a variety of threats that arise from the adoption of environmental management practices. These threats are mainly related to external factors such as additional nancial funds, rigorous future legal requirements and a lack of signicant environmentally friendly clientele. The threats may be dealt with if the state prepares effective environmental regulations for GMMI and informs consumers about GMMI environmental practices as well as if GMMI rewards the best environmental practice. Mudd (2007) indicates that the environmental management practices of mining companies may involve high costs in the long run. Additionally, in an assessment of the inuence of the environmental regulatory regime on the decisions of the mining industry, Annandale (2000) nds that mining companies take environmental regulations very seriously. This also exists in Greece, where mining companies consider environmental regulation very important. This could be explained due to the fact that Greece, as a member of the European Union, has standardized its regulative and legislative regime with EU laws, which has led to strict environmental requirements for Greek companies.

Acknowledgments The authors would like to thank two anonymous referees for their useful comments. The authors are also indebted to Philippa Harris for her proofreading of the English. Any remaining errors on any aspect of the paper are solely the authors responsibility.

Appendix A See Table A1.

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Table A1 Environmental actions of Greek Mineral and Mining Industry. Company/web site Environmental actions ISO 14001 GHG actions Air pollution management Sites restoration Air pollution management Recyling ISO 14001 Sites restoration Dust management Water and energy management Solid waste management Biodiversity conservation Environmental Impact Statement Report ISO 14001 CO2 actions Sites restoration Environmental impact statement report Recycling Air and noise auditing system EMAS Dust auditing system Sites restoration Studies for alternative use of sites Air pollution management ISO 14001 Natural resources management Waste management Landscape management Environmental impact statement report Sites restoration ISO 14001 Dust management CO2 actions Sites restoration Waste water treatment Environmental impact statement report Sites restoration Natural resources management Sites restoration Air pollution management Recycling ISO 14001 Fair safety zones Sites restoration Water management Material management Driving forcesa

Aluminum of Greece S.A.http://www.alhellas.gr/static/index.html

Biogyps Karvelis Co.http://www.biogyps-karvelis.gr

S&B Industrial Minerals S.A.http://www.s.andb.gr

Public Power Corporation S.A.http://www.dei.gr

Del-Distomo S.A. Hellenic Mining S.A.

Grecian Magnesitehttp://www.grecianmagnesite.com Elmin Hellenic Mining Enterprises S.A.http://www.elmin.gr

Intercement Structurally Material S.A.http://www.titan-cement.com Larco S.A.http://www.larco.gr

Dionyssos-Penteligon Commercial & Industrial Marbelhttp://www.dionyssomarbel.gr Mevior Industrial Minerals S.A.http://www.mevior.com Aegean Perlites S.A.http://aegean-perlites.com Halyps Cement S.A.http://www.halyps.gr Kimolos Cement Enterprise Hellenic Gold S.A.

V V V V V V V V V V V V M V V V M V V V V V V V V V V V M V V V V V V M V V V V V V V V V V

M: mandatory measures, V: voluntary measures.

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