Finland to pass new mining law

on Tuesday; miners critical of it.

Miners are worried that the new mining law, which is expected to be passed by Finland’s parliament on Tuesday could increase bureaucracy and compensation to landowners which may make future ops more difficult

Author: Terhi Kinnunen (Reuters)
Posted:  Monday , 14 Mar 2011

HELSINKI (Reuters)

Finland’s parliament is expected to pass a new mining law on Tuesday that miners fear will increase bureaucracy and compensation to landowners, making future operations more difficult.

Updating a law from the 1960’s, it is seen coming into force on July 1.

The government says the new law promotes mining but also takes into account environmental issues, citizens’ and landowners’ rights and gives municipalities more potential to influence decision-making on mining projects.

Supervision of mining issues will move to the Safety Technology Authority, Tukes, from the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.

“The compensation fees will be higher than in Sweden,” Olavi Paatsola, executive director of Finnish mining industry association FinnMin, told Reuters.

“The harsh bureaucracy is to be introduced to the ore prospecting stage, which in our opinion is unnecessary, because prospecting work has a minimal impact on nature.”

Environmentalists say the reform is good for nature, although it is not perfect.

“The reform is a clear improvement to the current situation. Firstly, it will take into account environmental points, and secondly it will secure citizens’ rights,” said Leo Stranius, secretary general for the Finnish Nature League.

He added the Finnish Nature League had demanded the law would prohibit ore prospecting in nature reserves and that uranium would not be included in the mining law.

The reform to the mining law began in 2005, but the process has been slow due to its thoroughness. The parliament is expected to give the green light to the new law at the current parliament’s last session. Finland will hold general elections on April 17.

The new law requires a final approval from President Tarja Halonen.


Finland’s location in the middle of the Fennoscandian Shield gives it an excellent potential for a variety of minerals such as nickel, gold and chrome. Its geology is similar to that of areas of Canada and Australia, both big mining countries.

Currently there are nine metallic ore mines operating in Finland, and five of them are gold mines.

In addition three mines — two gold mines and one mine producing nickel, copper and palladium — are being built.

The mining sector in 2010 amounted to only 0.4 percent of Finland’s gross domestic product (GDP).

One of the biggest mines is Talvivaara (TLV1V.HE: Quote), which produces nickel, zinc and copper. It delivers nickel and cobalt to Norilsk Nickel GNKN.MM refinery in Harjavalta and zinc to Nyrstar (NYR.BR: Quote).

Finnish stainless steel maker Outokumpu (OUT1V.HE: Quote) owns Europe’s only chromium mine in Kemi with current annual production of about 1.3 million tons of ore. The mine produces chromite concentrates for its ferrochrome smelter in Tornio, some 35 kilometres (22 miles) away.

“If I look at this law from the perspective of the industry, it has been an awful project,” Antti Pihko, chief of the Kemi mine told Finnish daily Kauppalehti.

“After this, international companies will prefer to go to Sweden where fees are only a tenth compared to Finland and where production can be started much faster,” he was quoted as saying.

(Editing by Jane Baird)

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