International news within the industry of mining and metal, Jul, 17 2019
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The ministry inquiry: The Finnish mining legislation does not need any major changes

Preparing the open-pit mine blast. Photo: Creative Commons, credit: BrunoSM
Preparing the open-pit mine blast. Photo: Creative Commons, credit: BrunoSM
Published by
Markku Björkman - 21 Jun 2019

The municipalities' rights and environmental responsibility for the after-care of mines should be strengthened, says a new inquiry concerning the laws on mining in Finland. Today, mining is regulated by many different laws and agencies.

The legislation on mining in Finland is fragmented and inconsistent and on some points also contradictory, the lawyer describes Doctor Pekka Vihervuori who compiled the investigation.

- The basic dilemma is that two different laws regulate the application stage, said Vihervuori when his inquiry was submitted to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy on Monday morning.

Vihervuori sees no need to thoroughly renew the mining law but sees that both it and other laws that regulate mining companies' operations in Finland need clarification.

Mining companies pay for low remuneration and collateral for aftercare

Vihervuori proposes, among other things, that environmental and mining permits should be applied for from the same instance or even merged. Today, licenses for mining are to be sought from the Tukes Safety and Chemicals Agency, while environmental permits must be applied for from the regional administration agencies.

The investigation also notes that the remuneration required by mining companies for the aftercare of a mining area should be higher.

Here too, it is partly because the collateral is set according to different laws: it is the Environmental Protection Act that determines how the mine's waste areas should be restored, while it is the mining law that determines how the mining area can be made safe again.

The municipality's position needs to be strengthened

The investigation also proposes that the municipality's position and rights in mining operations be strengthened. This could be done by requiring general or detailed plans for all mining projects.

The criticism of the mining law has often consisted of the fact that the municipalities have little to say about, and that the international mining companies pay too little tax to extract minerals in Finland. Several parties have stated that they support a higher mining tax, but it is a political issue that the current investigation did not take a stand on.

The new government program also contains proposals on mining tax and on strengthening the environmental protection and the municipalities' rights with regard to mining.

Mining industry critical, conservation association hopefully

The industry organization for the mining industry commented in a press release that the investigation contains several proposals that entail difficulties for the industry. The criticism applies, for example, to the proposal to shorten the time that may be used for ore exploration.

At the Finnish Nature Conservation Association, environmental lawyer Pasi Kallio says that the investigation does not propose anything radical, but probably shows the right direction.

"Especially when combined with the line drawings in the government program, we will achieve a good start," says Kallio.

The report commissioned to clarify how well the mining legislation in Finland works today was commissioned by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy in cooperation with the Ministry of the Environment in February 2019.