takes into account other economic activities, people and the environment.
The mining industry is growing, which is important to Finland. But more growth demands more responsibility. As it is in many other sectors, Finland has an opportunity to become a pioneer in responsible mining.
In autumn 2011, Sitra began preparing a new focus area for promoting sustainable mining practices. The objective was to establish a Network for Sustainable Mining, tasked with preventing and resolving any conflicts of interest between mining companies, the environment and the surrounding community. The Network for Sustainable Mining was founded in May 2014 with Sitra’s support. It became independent in the summer of 2015 and is now working alongside FinnMin, the Finnish Mining Association.
The main goal of the network has been to jointly define the prerequisites for sustainable mining in Finland. Sitra’s focus area, which operated from August 2013 to July 2015 was acting as a link between the Ministry of Employment and the Economy’s action plan Making Finland a leader in sustainable extractive industry. The network is contributing to the action plan’s goals of strengthening co-operation between the extractive industry and its stakeholders as well as developing concrete tools for responsible mining.
The needs of stakeholders matter in responsible mining
Mining practices can be responsible and performed in a way that takes the needs of other businesses, people and the nature into consideration. If attention is paid to the needs of stakeholder groups, fewer conflicts arise. Open interaction builds trust between the mining industry and its stakeholders. All parties’ efforts to advance corporate social responsibility (CSR) deserve attention. The mining industry stakeholder groups include local residents, workers’ organisations, environmental protection organisations, the Finnish Sámi community, NGOs and other third sector groups, representatives of other industries (e.g. the Finnish Hospitality Association), technology providers and regional councils.
It is often possible to do even more than is required by law. Several fields of industry have shown that sustainability practices can be improved and developed. The mining industry can do it too, but it will require compromises and open, respectful discussion. One of the objectives of the Network for Sustainable Mining has been to strengthen the mining sector’s self-regulation mechanisms. For this purpose, the network has jointly created a new reporting model for the mining industry, in order to increase transparency and improve the dialogue with stakeholder groups. The first social responsibility report of the Finnish industry was published in September 2015 (available in Finnish only).
Transparency, trust and co-operation
The Network for Sustainable Mining provides a neutral forum for the mining industry to interact with its stakeholders. The scope of the network’s activity does not include a law-making or enforcement role but instead focuses on fostering co-operation and dialogue between industry and society. It provides a platform for sharing information and experiences, and advocates the building and introduction of more responsible practices. Sustainability management tools are created through co-operation.
The network is committed to co-operating within the framework of jointly agreed objectives and procedures. Sitra was supporting the establishment of such co-operation: by bringing together research data and the experiences of peers, Sitra was assisting the network in creating effective tools based on the compiled information.
Today, the network is operating independently. It is aiming to play a permanent and continuous role in the field of sustainable mining.