Since the early 1990s, at least 45 initiatives have been mounted to improve the environmental and social performance of the mining industry across the world. Many changes in the formal legal and regulatory systems have also been introduced. However, no systematic approach has been adopted to test whether this effort is making a useful difference. Without such monitoring of success, the ongoing tension between companies, communities, and governments regarding the role of mining in society will likely continue. This paper makes the case for using 'contribution analysis' to fill this gap, a systematic means to assess and track mining's contribution to human and ecosystem wellbeing over the full project and product lifecycles. This is a higher test than current practice. It brings out a fuller picture of the positives and negatives, provides greater opportunity for the perspectives of all interests to be heard, and is fairer.