Best Practice in Mineral Policy – Finland

Mining shows its potential in Finland

In recent years, several new mines have been opened in Finland. The mining boom has increased economic activity and brought more jobs particularly in remote areas in the Northern and Eastern parts of Finland.

In 2013, there were a total of 46 mines and quarries regulated under the new Mining Act (2011) operating in Finland. The volume of metal ores extracted continues to increase, as new mines are being established and beginning to start production. The excavated volumes of industrial minerals have stayed at the previous years' level. Investments in exploration declined as in every mining field on the globe. This refers to the uncertain economic situation.

Several mining projects were in progress. Metallic mining and the related industry have shown growth and export potential. The Government has promoted the mining industry with a variety of measures, including training of skilled personnel, construction of roads and railways, and providing funding for research.

The new Mining Act is modern and corresponds to the principles of sustainable use and development. The Mining Act takes into consideration the need to secure the prerequisites for ore prospecting and mining activity as well as environmental perspectives, citizens’ rights, landowners’ rights and municipalities’ opportunities to influence issues.

Exploration and mining companies are regulated under the same tax legislation as all other companies in Finland. Compared to the rest of the Nordic countries, taxation in Finland is similar: there is no special tax for the mining sector.

Top positions

Finnish mining sector scored top positions in 2012 and 2013 in Fraser Institute’s Survey of Mining Companies, in which over a hundred jurisdictions around the world participated. Various policy factors were evaluated, such as environmental regulations, socioeconomic conditions and labor availability.

Mining sector’s rapid growth has also triggered public debate. Common concerns are conserving the environment and social effects.

To address these issues, the Finnish extractive industry sector together with the government and various stakeholders started processes in order to strengthen the social acceptance of the mining industry.

Minerals strategy

Finland`s Minerals Strategy was created in 2010 as part of the Natural Resources Strategy of Finland. The Ministry of Employment and the Economy gave the coordination task to the Geological Survey of Finland. During a six-month preparation period, more than 20 experts from the minerals sectors and 90 persons from various stakeholder groups participated in the process.

In the final report, the authors had identified three strategic objectives: promoting domestic growth, solutions for global mineral chain challenges and mitigating environmental impact. In relation to these, twelve action proposals were made. These action proposals can be divided into four themes:

  1. Strengthening minerals policy theme includes various proposals. First is that the Finnish government should recognize the significance, growth potential and risks pertaining to the minerals sector. The second relates to the implementing of the EU’s Raw Material Initiative, in which Finland should take a visible role. Moreover, mineral sector’s financing opportunities should be improved and Finnish ownership increased, and investigate the use of tax incentives to promote exploration for natural resources.
  2. The second theme deals with securing the supply of raw materials. Compilation, interpretation and distribution of geoscientific and environmental data should be emphasized and permit procession times should be significantly reduced. Furthermore, land use planning should support the objects mentioned above.
  3. The theme “Reducing the environmental impact and increasing productivity” contains three action proposals. First is that the material and energy efficiency of machinery, equipment and processing technologies should be improved further. Also, green economy business should be developed with the cooperation of SMEs and research institutes. The third action proposal in this theme states that it is crucial to establish mechanisms of cooperation between local residents, companies and the regulatory authorities.
  4. Strengthening R&D operations and expertise proposes to establish a research program under the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation TEKES. It also proposes that minerals sector should be better included in education administrator’s long term planning.

Making Finland a leader

As a complement to the Minerals Strategy, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy published
Making Finland a leader in the sustainable extractive industry action plan on July 2013.  Tens of industry experts and stakeholders participated in roundtable discussions and other meetings. The publication includes concrete proposals for action to be taken by the industry, in order to obtain society’s support for its activities. Improving the operating conditions of the field should be made with regard to administration, training and infrastructure. In addition, more open exchange of information is essential to achieve the goals.

The publication includes a grand total of 35 concrete measures, all of which implementation is proposed by 2019. These measures are divided into a couple of themes: sustainability, stable operating environment, cooperation and encouragement.

 The Network for Sustainable Mining

The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra has created a program called Network for Sustainable Mining. The objective of this is to “establish an independent network that will play a permanent and continuous role in the field of sustainable mining”. The creation of the network is linked to the MEE’s action plan described above. The main goal of the network is “to define the prerequisites for sustainable mining in Finland”.

In practice, the network aims at creating a neutral forum for the mining industry for interacting with and building relationships with its stakeholders.

The creation of the network was started in the fall of 2013. Start-up team for the network included representatives of four key players, Finnish Mining Association FinnMin, Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (FANC), Finnish Metalworkers’ Union and Regional Council of Lapland. These four parties and Sitra signed the Statement of Intent (SOI) at the end of February 2014, in which the parties agreed to cooperate and build dialogue.

First experience tells that the implementation of these development projects advance as planned. Not only the mining sector, but also stakeholders have received them well.  

Marko Mannila
Advisor, Communications
Finnish Mining Association FinnMin