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Responsibly – towards sustainable mining through dialogue


Eero Yrjö-Koskinen

Executive Director of the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation


Following the end of a process last spring, which resulted in the creation of an action plan for a sustainable extractive industry in Finland, the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (FANC) has been continuing its efforts to shape the Network for Sustainable Mining (NSM). This planning has been done together with representatives from Sitra, the Finnish Association of Extractive Resources Industry (FinnMin), the Regional Council of Lapland and the Finnish Metalworkers’ Union.

After the approval of the action plan, its implementation has been monitored by a steering committee chaired by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy and by the Ministry of the Environment. The Network for Sustainable Mining, with Sitra’s support, will run parallel to the action plan but has a less formal configuration. Its aim is to assume a permanent role in its field.

The network’s objectives, vision and guiding principles are outlined in a Co-operation Commitment, approved by the FANC’s board of directors. One of these primary objectives will include defining the prerequisites for responsible mining by promoting dialogue between the stakeholders and jointly pre-empting any potential issues that could arise from mining projects. This combined effort will take into account the needs of the environment and other economic activities, e.g. tourism and reindeer herding. The discussions are expected to result in the development and adoption of new operating practices for mining companies and take responsible mining one step forward in Finland.

The network hopes to prevent conflicts between mining companies and their stakeholders. By disseminating information and lending an ear to representatives of various stakeholders, it can help pave the way for mutual understanding between parties and play a role in helping mining companies improve sustainability.

To learn more about sustainable mining practices, the FANC, Sitra and FinnMin went to Canada, where the Towards Sustainable Mining initiative, commonly referred to as TSM, has been used for years. The Canadians have recognised the usefulness of sharing best practices among companies. TSM sparked great interest among the visitors and now the possibilities of implementing it in Finland are being assessed.

Led by Sitra, a group of specialists is now working on adapting the TSM concept to Finnish conditions. The FANC hopes that the Finnish version will also take into consideration the use of water by others than the mining industry, e.g. drinking-water supply, washing, fishing and recreation. It is also important that TSM complies with EU regulations.

Although the building of a Finnish network for sustainable mining is not yet complete, it is evident that there is a demand for it. Finland does not have such a group regularly reporting on mining.

To ensure balance, the composition of the network will be such that it will be able to withstand critical analysis without losing its ability to function. I am very much looking forward to further, more detailed discussions on the network’s tasks and guiding principles.

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