William Sacher is titular of the IRD-Iméra Chair for 2024-25. His research project aims to establish an innovative connection between the concepts and methods of environmental economics, ecological economics, and geosciences.

On June 4 and 5, 2024, he is organizing an expert meeting and study day at Iméra to examine, in the context of the energy transition and growing demand for metals, the long-term social costs of industrial mining activities. The experience and knowledge accumulated from studying post-mining territories in France will be utilized to think about, from an interdisciplinary perspective, the challenges that mines represent for intergenerational solidarity and environmental justice in the global North and South.

visuel sacher imera ird

What lessons for intergenerational solidarity?

Combining perspectives to better envision tomorrow’s post-mining landscape.

The study day proposes to cross perspectives on the socio-environmental issues associated with post-mining territories, in order to draw lessons that would enable better conceptualization of post-mining from the early stages of projects. The aim will be to take stock in this direction, which could inform a process of generic characterization of the specific costs of post-mining, and help minimize or avoid them.


Ores are essential for modern life, but their extraction poses an increasing threat to ecosystems and societies. The global context of a “supercycle” since the beginning of the 21st century involves a marked increase in demand, which, combined with the secular decline in ore quality, drives increasingly intensive and extensive mining activities. This trend is expected to continue in the future given the role of metals in the “energy transition,” especially those termed “critical.” According to the IEA, demand is expected to increase by 300% for copper, 2000% for nickel, and up to 4000% for lithium over the next two decades.

Industrial mining activities and their consequences unfold over cycles involving successive phases: prospecting, exploration, exploitation, closure, and abandonment. Each of these phases involves specific issues, actors, and spatial and temporal scales. The closure of major mines in France in the second half of the 20th century left behind successions and mining territories, the history and existence of which have been the subject of numerous studies(1).

The working hypothesis proposed here is that the knowledge produced within the framework of these studies provides lessons that could better anticipate the consequences and costs of future exploitations and contribute to greater environmental justice on future mining and post-mining sites. This applies not only to France but also to other contexts such as in the Global South (particularly involved in the energy transition) where research tends to focus on the early phases of mining projects.

The consequences of mining pollution span decades, centuries, and even millennia(2), and anticipating post-mining management is imperative from the perspective of intergenerational solidarity. This work aligns with the approach of considering the possibility of coexistence of various productive activities in post-mining territories of the Global North and South(3).


Program and registration

  • Tuesday, June 4, 2024, from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
  • Wednesday, June 5, 2024, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM

About the chair’s partner

The Research Institute for Development (IRD) is a French research organization, original and unique in the landscape of research for development. Privileging interdisciplinarity, the IRD organizes its research around an equitable scientific partnership with developing countries, through its international network, by bringing a logic of co-production of solutions to the global challenges of development with the scientific communities. partners. The IRD thus positions its research for development as major tools of the new international development agenda.