IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Managing the 1970s energy crises in a state-owned mining company: strategies pursued by the Swedish iron ore producer LKAB


  • Kristina Söderholm

    (Luleå University of Technology (LTU))

  • Linus Larsson

    (Luleå University of Technology (LTU))

  • Patrik Söderholm

    (Luleå University of Technology (LTU))


In this paper, we analyze the strategies adopted by the Swedish state-owned iron ore mining producer LKAB in response to the 1970s energy crises, i.e., soaring energy input expenses in combination with stagnating demand for iron ore. The analysis builds on a unique empirical material, e.g., minutes from board meetings, over an extended time period. This permits in-depth analyses of the two main strategies pursued by LKAB at the time: (a) securing energy supplies (as well as output sales) through upstream investments in uranium and coal mining; and (b) engaging in own R&D to enable energy-saving measures and product development. While the LKAB experiences tend to support the notion that investments supporting broader societal goals, although at the expense of firm productivity, may be likely in the presence of strong state government involvement, they also show that state-owned mineral enterprises can be highly innovative and competitive following investments in internal R&D. Specifically, LKAB’s R&D contributed to significant product development and energy savings, the latter occurring both in the company’s own pelletizing process as well as in the processes of key customers (i.e., the steel companies). The paper concludes by highlighting a number of important lessons for contemporary energy transitions in the process industries.

Suggested Citation

  • Kristina Söderholm & Linus Larsson & Patrik Söderholm, 2018. "Managing the 1970s energy crises in a state-owned mining company: strategies pursued by the Swedish iron ore producer LKAB," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 31(1), pages 179-190, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:minecn:v:31:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s13563-017-0122-y
    DOI: 10.1007/s13563-017-0122-y

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Abstract
    Download Restriction: Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sluyterman, Keetie, 2010. "Royal Dutch Shell: Company Strategies for Dealing with Environmental Issues," Business History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 84(2), pages 203-226, July.
    2. Jeffry M. Netter & William L. Megginson, 2001. "From State to Market: A Survey of Empirical Studies on Privatization," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(2), pages 321-389, June.
    3. Das, Amarendra, 2012. "Who extracts minerals more efficiently—Public or private firms? A study of Indian mining industry," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 755-766.
    4. David Humphreys & Keith Welham, 2000. "The restructuring of the international coal industry," International Journal of Global Energy Issues, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 13(4), pages 333-347.
    5. Keetie Sluyterman, 2010. "Royal Dutch Shell: Company Strategies for Dealing with Environmental Issues," Business History Review, Harvard Business School, vol. 84(2), pages 203-226, June.
    6. Fang, Hong & Wu, Junjie & Zeng, Catherine, 2009. "Comparative study on efficiency performance of listed coal mining companies in China and the US," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 5140-5148, December.
    7. van Zanden, Jan Luiten & Jonker, Joost & Howarth, Stephen & Sluyterman, Keetie, 2007. "A History of Royal Dutch Shell," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199298778, Decembrie.
    8. Astrid Kander & Paolo Malanima & Paul Warde, 2013. "Power to the People: Energy in Europe over the Last Five Centuries," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 10138.
    9. John Mikler, 2009. "Greening the Car Industry," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 12974.
    10. Ericsson, Magnus, 1996. "Comment : The role of product differentiation in the iron ore industry: the case of LKAB (by Stefan Hellmer)," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(1-2), pages 61-62.
    11. Rosenberg,Nathan, 1994. "Exploring the Black Box," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521459556, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. repec:fan:istois:v:html10.3280/isto2022-045001 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Geissler, Bernhard & Mew, Michael C. & Weber, Olaf & Steiner, Gerald, 2015. "Efficiency performance of the world's leading corporations in phosphate rock mining," Resources, Conservation & Recycling, Elsevier, vol. 105(PB), pages 246-258.
    3. Perrons, Robert K. & Cosby, Tonya, 2020. "Applying blockchain in the geoenergy domain: The road to interoperability and standards," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 262(C).
    4. Meenakshi Parida & S. Madheswaran, 2021. "Effect of firm ownership on productivity: empirical evidence from the Indian mining industry," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 34(1), pages 87-103, April.
    5. Ediger, Volkan Ş. & Berk, Istemi & Ersoy, Mücella, 2015. "An assessment of mining efficiency in Turkish lignite industry," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 44-51.
    6. Parida, Meenakshi & Madheswaran, S., 2021. "Does ownership matter? Empirical evidence from the performance of Indian state and private coal mining companies," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 74(C).
    7. Johan Willner, 2003. "Privatisation and Public Ownership in Finland," CESifo Working Paper Series 1012, CESifo.
    8. Ashantha Ranasinghe & Xuejuan Su, 2023. "When social assistance meets market power: A mixed duopoly view of health insurance in the United States," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 61(4), pages 851-869, October.
    9. Ingrid Ott & Stephen J. Turnovsky, 2006. "Excludable and Non‐excludable Public Inputs: Consequences for Economic Growth," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 73(292), pages 725-748, November.
    10. Bozec, Richard, 2004. "L’analyse comparative de la performance entre les entreprises publiques et les entreprises privées : le problème de mesure et son impact sur les résultats," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 80(4), pages 619-654, Décembre.
    11. Carlo Cambini & Yossi Spiegel, 2016. "Investment and Capital Structure of Partially Private Regulated Firms," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(2), pages 487-515, April.
    12. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur, 2008. "Incentives and Workers' Motivation in the Public Sector," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(525), pages 171-191, January.
    13. Lu, Susan Feng & Dranove, David, 2013. "Profiting from gaizhi: Management buyouts during China’s privatization," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 634-650.
    14. Ding, Mingfa, 2014. "Political Connections and Stock Liquidity: Political Network, Hierarchy and Intervention," Knut Wicksell Working Paper Series 2014/7, Lund University, Knut Wicksell Centre for Financial Studies.
    15. Denisova, Irina & Eller, Markus & Frye, Timothy & Zhuravskaya, Ekaterina, 2012. "Everyone hates privatization, but why? Survey evidence from 28 post-communist countries," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 44-61.
    16. Li, Jiaming & Li, Yuheng & Zhang, Wenzhong & Yu, Jianhui, 2018. "Imbalanced ownership transformation and land use within an urban area: a case study of Beijing," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 240-247.
    17. Johan Hauknes & Per M. Koch, "undated". "Two sides – one coin?," STEP Report series 200318, The STEP Group, Studies in technology, innovation and economic policy.
    18. N.F. Cruz & R.C. Marques & A. Marra & C. Pozzi, 2014. "Local Mixed Companies: The Theory And Practice In An International Perspective," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 85(1), pages 1-9, March.
    19. Luc Baumstark & Claude Ménard & William Roy & Anne Yvrande-Billon, 2005. "Modes de gestion et efficience des opérateurs dans le secteur des transports urbains de personnes," Post-Print halshs-00103116, HAL.
    20. Orietta DESSY & Massimo FLORIO, 2004. "Workers' earnings in the UK before and after privatisation: a study of five industries," Departmental Working Papers 2004-13, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    21. Mouna Mrad & Slaheddine Hallara, 2014. "The Relationship Between the Board of Directors and the Performance/Value Creation in a Context of Privatization: The Case of French Companies," Public Organization Review, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 83-108, March.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:minecn:v:31:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s13563-017-0122-y. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Sonal Shukla or Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.