The Australian mining city of Broken Hill, along with many other industrial areas in the Developed World, has experienced a steady decline since the 1970s. Such sites do not conform to the stereotypical image of heritage as aesthetically pleasing or architecturally significant. Nor do they conform to the stereotypical image of communities empowered with a strong sense of collective identity and economic vitality. Despite this, industrial heritage is currently being utilised in government policy, both to combat the economic and social decline associated with de-industrialisation and to promote a broader understanding of national identity. This is particularly evident in Europe and the UK but also in Australia and parts of South America. However, industrial heritage faces a number of issues that impact on its perceived value and management as a sustainable resource. These include the scale, complexity and geographical remoteness of many industrial heritage sites as well as the finite nature of the resources and technologies that many industrial sites were originally dependent upon. The recent affirmation by UNESCO that heritage is ‘an instrument for the sustainable development of all societies’ offers an additional challenge, not only to industrial heritage but to heritage management practice generally.This paper will, firstly, identify the unique issues facing the management of industrial heritage sites and, secondly, present a management model that responds to the requirements for their conservation and sustainable use. In doing so, the implications of the conventional practice of establishing the criteria for ‘outstanding universal value’ and managing so as to conserve that value, is examined in relation to the requirements for stakeholder collaboration as a key strategy for sustainable development. As World Heritage represents an important benchmark for heritage debate and practice, the paper starts with an analysis of how the concept of ‘sustainable development’ is understood and applied within the World Heritage system. This is followed with the results of original case study research that explores the integration of sustainable development principles, including stakeholder collaboration, into the decision making structures at six industrial World Heritage sites in the United Kingdom. The paper challenges the traditional emphasis placed on tangible heritage and argues that current management frameworks and collaboration processes potentially limit the development of sustainable local commercial activities and associative attachments. The paper then describes a model of sustainable heritage management that is relevant to industrial heritage sites such as Broken Hill, as well as to other complex heritage sites. The paper concludes that, no matter the model of stakeholder participation chosen, the longer-term economic and social viability of many complex heritage sites is questionable.