Mining and metal production are conventionally seen as the basis for economic growth and development. They were a key feature of the industrial revolution in Europe and are central to present industrialisation processes in ‘developing countries’. But to what extent do they contribute to real development, in terms of raising people’s standards of living? Do they play an essential role in ending poverty, or impoverish more people than they benefit? The mining/metals industry is a prime destroyer of ecosystems and emitter of greenhouse gases, and is also associated with some appalling human rights abuses, with projects forced on to remote populations, and non-violent resistance often meeting vicious repression, in the name of ‘development’. How does one gain a balanced view of the mining industry and its relationship with ecosystems, development and the rule of law? Central to any conception of real development is a more holistic model of education based on democratic principles.