Social acceptability of mining operations best promoted by transparency and communications
To achieve social acceptability mining companies have the challenge of proving that environmental and safety issues are under control. Responsible decision-making and operations is a prerequisite. Social acceptability is linked with the interaction between society and industry and what is within the best interest of society.
The Heads of European State Mining Authorities were assembled this week in Helsinki to discuss social acceptability. The meeting was hosted by the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes).
Europe has a lot of untapped mineral resources, and EU has stated that one of its strategic goals is the better use of European raw material sources.
Although the history, spectrum and challenges of mining operations differ around Europe, the authorities identified many common challenges, one major challenge being interaction between stakeholders.
– The challenges of mining are different in densely populated areas in Central Europe than they are in the northern parts of Finland and Sweden where the challenges are related to the coexistence of mining operations, the environment, and the traditional livelihood of the local communities, says Director Päivi Rantakoski from Tukes.
– In legislation and in the decisions made by the authorities it is important to ensure safety, transparency of permit processes, impartiality and openness. Authorities should take care that the legislative demands and the authorities’ processes are communicated openly and in such a manner that the mining industry, the local people and other authorities can trust in the way things are done, emphasises Ms Rantakoski.
Both the authorities and the mining industry should attempt to minimize the ill effects of mining activities. The mine must be well taken care of during its whole life-cycle. Everyone who is working in or with the mining industry should attempt to increase the local communities’ and other stakeholders’ awareness of the mining operations and the economical and societal value of it.
The examples told by the European Mining Authorities show that mining companies should communicate their plans openly already at early planning stages, and continue to uphold two-way communications throughout the entire process.
– The key is to talk with the local community and the people. We heard good examples of this from many countries. And nowadays it is possible to use many different channels and methods of communication, underlines Chief Inspector of Mines Terho Liikamaa from Tukes.
This was the 21st consecutive Meeting of the Heads of European State Mining Authorities. The meeting is held annually and was now organized in Finland for the first time. The previous meeting was held in Ireland in 2014. 26 representatives from 12 European countries took part in the meeting, in addition to 12 Finnish representatives who came from Tukes, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, and the Geological Survey of Finland.
Tukes is Finland's permit and surveillance authority for the mining industry. Tukes decides on applications filed for permits and rights pursuant to the Mining Act, and runs Finland's mining register. It also supervises mining activities through reporting, mining inspections, surveillance visits, enquiries and based on initiatives by the relevant actors.
For more information:
Director Päivi Rantakoski, tel. +358 29 5052 359
Chief Inspector of Mines Terho Liikamaa, tel. +358 29 5052 117
Senior Adviser Aki Ijäs, tel. +358 29 5052 682