Responsibly – The future of the Network for Sustainable Mining begins to take shape
Eero Yrjö-Koskinen (MSSc) is the Executive Director of the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (FANC).
In the past year, the Finnish Network for Sustainable Mining has taken important steps towards creating more permanent operations and structures, with the key objective of ensuring that it will be able to keep working after the end of July 2015, when Sitra will no longer be running its operations.
The network was established at a meeting held at Tytyri Mine in May 2014. Since then, its four working groups have met several times to discuss issues such as corporate responsibility and local operating practices. The working groups have been drafting a new responsibility standard and making preparations for an independent operational mode.
With regard to independent operations, the key issues have included securing the network’s rules and funding, and finding a suitable host organisation and chairman.
It seems obvious that the network would be best placed under the Finnish Mining Association (FinnMin), as this setting would ensure that information is shared as effortlessly as possible between the network and the mining companies.
The network has managed to find an excellent candidate for the chairman’s post, whose name, however, will remain confidential for the time being. The host organisation arrangements and the selection of a new chairman were due be approved at the network’s core group meeting on 16 January 2015.
The Finnish Network for Sustainable Mining has already proven its worth by bringing together the stakeholders in the mining industry. After cautiously testing the waters, the participants have come to know each other and are beginning to understand each other’s concerns.
It is quite clear that consensus cannot be reached in all areas. For example, there are certain interests of the tourism industry that are difficult to reconcile with those of the mining industry. The mining sector and conservation areas also find themselves in a similar situation. However, a solution that can satisfy all parties is being sought.
At the beginning of March, the network members are travelling to Canada to find out more about the local models for operation. A responsibility standard based on the Canadian Towards Sustainable Mining system is likely to be introduced in Finland. More information on the system will be obtained at the world’s largest mining conference, held in Toronto between 1 and 4 March.
The working groups’ efforts will culminate in the core group meetings to be held in May and June 2015. The format the network will take after July will be decided at these meetings.
In addition to a permanent operational model, it will be important to create a new responsibility standard that can be widely adopted by the mining companies operating in Finland. This would be the most efficient method of securing a social licence to operate for the mining industry and avoiding new arguments over mines.