Organizational Changes and Employment Shifts in the Mining Industry: Toward a New Understanding of Resource-Based Economies in Peripheral Areas


  • Erika Anna Knobblock Department of Geography and Economic History, Umeå University, Sweden.


Technological development and innovation have improved productivity in mining; consequently, mining employment has decreased. In the light of a growing demand for raw materials, mining activities have increased in many mining regions. In Sweden, this development has had modest effects on employment levels, although improved productivity is not the sole explanation. The aim of this paper is to examine the extent to which a reorganization of mining employment has occurred; which industrial sectors might be affected by such restructuring; and whether restructuring has any implications on gender equality. Previous studies by Eriksson (2004) and Knobblock & Pettersson (2010), have demonstrated that new employment strategies, in addition to mergers and acquisitions, have been implemented and that they affect employment. However, the extent of this reorganization remains unknown. The current study was carried out in Västerbotten, a mining region in northern Sweden. By means of unique longitudinal database, connecting information concerning individuals and companies and covering the total population of Sweden, along with data from the Mining Inspectorate of Sweden, this study examined issues of employment, labour mobility, and gender equality. Key informant interviews with mining stakeholders were also conducted, adding to the knowledge concerning organizational changes. The data suggests that an organizational change had occurred, with jobs having been outsourced by the mining industry to other sectors. This led to the start-up of new companies, increased employment, and the inclusion of more women in the field. Results also indicated that the mining industry and related companies have represented new development potential in peripheral mining regions. Keywords: Mining, Employment, Outsourcing, Innovation, Regional development