World-class mine projects are increasingly failing to become world-class mines. Non-technical socio-political and environmental problems seem, in part, to be the cause. However, the intangible and qualitative nature of these problems means overcoming them will require a greater systemic understanding of how the various technical and non-technical factors interact. This is particularly important as the concept of sustainable development has changed the industry paradigm sufficiently that it is no longer clear what world-class means. Finally, this better systemic understanding of mine projects needs communicating back to the exploration sector to improve exploration targeting.