A mining permit and a mining safety permit is required for the establishment of a mine and the undertaking of mining activity. Other permits are also required for undertaking of mining activity, of which the environmental permit is the most essential. The environmental permit is granted by the environmental authority.
A mining permit is the prerequisite for the establishment of a mine and the undertaking of mining activity. The mining permit applicant is most often a company registered in Finland, with mining as line of business. A natural person is also eligible to apply for a mining permit.
A mining permit entitles the holder:
- to exploit the mining minerals found in the mining area;
- to exploit the organic and inorganic surface materials, excess rock, and tailings generated as a by-product of mining activities as well as other materials belonging to the bedrock and soil of the mining area to the extent that their use is necessary for the purposes of mining operations in the mining area;
- to perform ore prospecting within the mining area.
Tukes normally issues mining permits to be valid until further notice, but the permit can also be granted for a fixed term.
The mining permit grants the applicant rights to a mining area and auxiliary area of a mine, if necessary. The borders of a mining area are read vertically in depth terms.
The mining area rights granted prior to 2011 were called mining concessions. As proof of mining rights and the entry of the mining area in the mining register, the holder of mining rights received a mining concession certificate. Almost all mines in Finland operate on mining concessions, but in such a manner that as a rule and at least essentially the provisions of the Mining Act of 2011 apply to these mines as well.
In mining operations, the extraction of minerals is divided as follows:
- metallic minerals – metallic mineral mines
- industrial minerals – limestone mines
- other industrial minerals – talc, rockwool mineral, feldspar and quartz mines
- commercial stones – soapstone and precious stone mines.
A mining permit can also be altered by either reducing or expanding the mining area.
It is also possible to apply for an extension to a fixed-term mining permit. The permit holder may apply for extending a mining permit's validity if mining activity has not been initiated or the operations have been interrupted for five years.
A mining permit, or mining right, may be assigned to another party. The assignee shall fulfil requirements corresponding to those applicable to the permit holder under the Mining Act.
The permit holder can pledge the right to exploit mining minerals, based on a mining permit. The right to pledge becomes effective when the mining authority receives written notification of the pledging from the permit holder.
The types of permits related to mining activity and guidelines for applying for permits:
- Mining permit and extension of a mining concession: Mining Act, section 34, and Government Decree on mining activities 391/2012, sections 16 and 17, and specifications that are necessary in view of public and private interests in accordance with Mining Act, section 52
- Alteration of a mining permit: Mining Act, section 34, and Government Decree on mining activities 391/2012, sections 16 and 17, as applicable, and specifications that are necessary in view of public and private interests in accordance with Mining Act, section 52
- Extension of the validity of a fixed-term mining permit: Mining Act, section 34, and Government Decree on mining activities 391/2012, sections 16 and 17, as applicable, and specifications that are necessary in view of public and private interests in accordance with Mining Act, section 52
- Extending a mining permit's validity: Government Decree on mining activities, section 27 and specifications that are necessary in view of public and private interests in accordance with Mining Act, section 52
- Reviewing the provisions of a mining permit to secure public and private interests: Conducted in accordance with the decisions taken by the mining authority. In such a case, the mining authority requests the mining operator to provide an update of the specification that is necessary for securing public and private interests and an estimate of the sufficiency of the quantity of collateral with justifications. The specification takes account of the provisions of section 52 of the Mining Act
- Confirmation of the excavation fee in mining areas granted under the Mining Act of 2011: Mining Act, section 100, and Government Decree on Mining Activities, section 33
- Annual report on mining operations: Mining Act, section 18, and Government Decree on Mining Activities, section 31
- Assignment of a mining permit: Mining Act, section 73, and Government Decree on Mining Activities, section 32
- Pledge notification on mining rights: Government Decree on mining activities, section 28
- Notification of the termination of mining activity and the relevant mine-closure measures: Mining Act, section 145
- Mining safety permit: Mining Act, section 122, and Government Decree on Mining Activities, section 20
- Extension of the validity of a mining safety permit: Mining Act, section 122, and Government Decree on Mining Activities, section 20
- Alteration of a mining safety permit: Mining Act, section 122, and Government Decree on Mining Activities, section 20
Mining permit holder's obligations
The mining permit holder is obliged to ensure that mining activities do not cause
- damage to people’s health;
- danger to public safety;
- significant harm to public or private interests;
- infringement of public or private interests;
- obvious wasting of mining minerals;
- endangerment or encumbering of potential future use and excavation work at the mine and deposit.
In order to secure essential public or private interests, Tukes reviews the necessary regulations for every mine in accordance with the interval for review specified in Tukes’ decisions. In the procedure related to the review of regulations, the landowners of the mining area or the adjacent areas, or other parties involved have an opportunity to lodge complaints if the mining operations cause, for example, infringement of public or private interests. Furthermore, in this connection Tukes checks that the quantity of mining collateral is sufficient. The purpose of mining collateral is to ensure that once the mining operations are terminated the mining area is restored to the condition required by public safety.
The mining permit holder is obliged to submit an annual report to the mining authority on the extent and results of the exploitation of the deposit and to inform of any essential changes in the information on mineral resources.
The mining area and auxiliary area to a mine
The mining area shall be a continuous area of a size and shape that facilitate compliance with requirements concerning safety, location of mining activities, and mining technology. The mining area shall not be larger than necessary for the purposes of mining activity. However, areas where it may be possible to find additional mineral deposits can be included in the mining area.
An area located in the vicinity of the mining area, indispensable as regards mining activity and necessary for the purposes of road access, transport equipment, power lines or water pipes, sewers, treatment of waters, or a transport route to be excavated to a sufficient distance from the surface, can be designated as an auxiliary area to the mine.
The mining area and auxiliary area to the mine may only be used for the purpose for which the right of use or another right has been granted.
Prerequisites for and impediments to granting a mining permit
The prerequisite for granting a mining permit is that the deposit is exploitable in terms of size, ore content, and technical characteristics.
A mining permit must not be granted for the following areas:
- a cemetery or an area belonging to a private grave, or within 50 metres of these;
- an area used by the defence forces;
- any area controlled by the Border Guard where movement is restricted or prohibited, or within 100 metres of such an area;
- an area where movement is restricted or access denied to outsiders;
- a traffic route or passage in public use;
- within 150 metres of a building intended for residential or work use, or comparable space, and any adjoining private yard, or the site for such a building;
- an area in horticultural use;
- within 50 metres of a public building or utility, or either a power line with a voltage of over 35,000 volts or a transformer station.
Tukes cannot grant a mining permit if there is good cause to doubt, for reasons that have emerged in connection with the handling of the application, that the applicant meets the prerequisites or has any apparent intention to see to the commencement of mining activity or if the applicant has previously fundamentally neglected obligations based on the Mining Act. When assessing the fundamental nature of said negligence, Tukes shall give particular consideration to the systematic nature of the negligence, its duration and recurrence, and the quantity of damage caused by the negligence.
Tukes examines the relationship of the mining area and any auxiliary area to other usage of land. The mining area must not be in conflict with other usage of land in the area.
Tukes shall not grant a mining permit if the mining activity causes one of the following and the said danger or impacts cannot be remedied through permit regulations
- causes danger to public safety;
- causes highly significant detrimental environmental impacts;
- substantially weakens the protection grounds of a Natura site located in the vicinity;
- substantially weakens the living conditions and industrial conditions of the locality.
Proceedings establishing a mining area
The proceedings establishing a mining area give the holder of a mining permit or the holder of a redemption permit for a mining area to use the mining area for mining operations.
A land survey office initiates the proceedings establishing a mining area once Tukes has granted a mining permit.
The holder of a mining permit may acquire the right to possess or use the area required for mining operations either by agreement or by applying for a redemption permit for a mining area from the Government. The redemption of rights of use to land areas and other special rights are executed in the proceedings establishing a mining area performed by the National Land Survey of Finland. If the National Land Survey of Finland cannot grant the redemption permit in the proceedings establishing a mining area, the Government can grant the right to utilise an area in the possession of another party as a mining area.
The possession of the area is not transferred to the mining permit holder.
The landowner is entitled to demand that the mining permit holder redeem the real property if
- the mining area causes substantial inconvenience or
- the local detailed plan designates the area for mining activity.
In the proceedings establishing a mining area, the compensation for right of use or property redeemed shall be specified. Compensation shall also be ordered if
- inconvenience or damage is caused to the property because of the redemption or
- if buildings, warehouses, or equipment or trees, a growing harvest, or other vegetation must be removed or transferred from the area that is to be assigned or already has been assigned for mining activities.
Further information on the proceedings establishing a mining area can be found on the address www.maanmittauslaitos.fi and chapter 8 of the Mining Act.
Compensations paid to landowners pursuant to the Mining Act
The mining permit holder shall pay annual compensation, or excavation fee, to the owners of land included in the mining area. The obligation to pay an excavation fee commences when the mining permit has become legally valid. Tukes confirms the amount of the excavation fee paid to landowners annually by its decision.
The annual amount of the excavation fee per property is 50 euros per hectare. If the permit authority has postponed the expiry of the mining permit in accordance with the Mining Act, the compensation shall be 100 euros per hectare until mining activities commence or resume. The obligation to pay elevated compensation commences when the decision on the new time for commencing mining activity, or continuing activities, has become legally valid.
In addition, the following shall be paid as an excavation fee:
- on metallic mineral mines: 0.15 per cent of the calculated value of metallic mining minerals, excavated and exploited during the year; considering the average price of the exploited metals included in the ore during the year, and the average value of other products exploited from the ore during the year
- on other mining minerals than metallic minerals: reasonable compensation for excavated and exploited mining mineral, taking into consideration grounds influencing the financial value of the mining mineral. The permit holder shall pay compensation in accordance with an agreement between the property owner and holder of mining permit, or confirmation by the mining authority as applied for by the property owner or holder of the mining permit. If the grounds influencing the value of the mining mineral have substantially changed, the property owner or mining right holder may demand that the mining authority revise the compensation.
For the purpose of confirming the excavation fee, the mining permit holder shall submit the relevant information to Tukes no later than the 15th of March in the year following the year for which the fee is to be paid. The mining authority confirms the amount of the excavation fee annually by its decision.
The excavation fee shall be paid no later than on the 30th day from the entry into force of the mining authority’s decision on the excavation fee.
The mining permit holder shall pay annual property-specific compensation (by-product fee) to each landowner in the mining area for the benefit gained from by-products of mining activities that are used for purposes other than mining activity (Mining Act 621/2011, section 101).
Mining safety and supervision of mines
The construction of a mine, and its productive operations are subject to a mining safety permit granted by the mining authority. Under the new Mining Act, the mining safety permit supersedes the approval of a general plan prescribed by the old Mining Act. Mining safety is supervised by Tukes, which also grants the Mining safety permits.
The mining operator is obliged to ensure mining safety. The operator shall pay particular attention to the structural and technical safety of the mine and to prevention of dangerous situations and accidents in the mine, alongside limitation of detrimental consequences caused by them.
When ensuring mining safety, the mining operator shall comply with the following operating principles:
- identify elements of danger and threats of accident;
- eliminate elements of danger;
- if that is not feasible, define safety objectives concerning limitation of elements of danger and undertake measures to limit the detrimental consequences caused by the elements of danger so as to render them as exiguous as possible and implement measures necessary for prevention of accidents and prepare for rescue measures.
Whenever necessary, the operator shall immediately isolate a dangerous area from other parts of the mine, interrupt activity in the mine, and implement the measures required in terms of mining safety.
Tukes periodically inspects all active mines. The inspection interval is determined by the nature of the mining operation and the conditions in the mine. Mines that operate regularly in challenging conditions are inspected annually. Inspections shall establish a mine’s technical implementation, operating principles and management systems. An inspection report shall be compiled on inspections, including all the items inspected as well as any observations made on deficiencies.
Separate provisions are issued regarding occupational health and safety in a mine, and occupational health and safety in mining operations is supervised by the occupational health and safety units of Regional State Administrative Agencies. Compliance with the environmental permits of mines is supervised by Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment and the radiation safety is monitored by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority.
Validity of a mining permit
A mining permit shall remain valid until further notice. Tukes shall review the regulations of a mining permit valid until further notice at the maximum interval of 10 years.
A mining permit can also be granted for a fixed term. A fixed-term mining permit shall expire at the end of the designated fixed term.
Tukes shall decide that the mining permit will expire if the permit holder has not, within the time limit specified in the permit, initiated mining activity or such preparatory work as indicates that the permit holder is seriously aiming at actual mining operations. Tukes shall also decide that the mining permit will expire if mining activities have been interrupted because of a factor dependent on the permit holder continuously for a minimum of five years, or mining activities can be considered to have actually ended.
However, Tukes may postpone the expiry of the mining permit and specify a new deadline for commencing mining activity.
Termination of mining activity
Mining activity ends when the mining permit expires or is cancelled.
No later than within two years of the termination of mining activity, the mining operator shall restore the mining area and the auxiliary area to the mine to a condition complying with public safety; ensure their restoration, cleaning, and landscaping; and perform the measures specified in the mining permit and the mining safety permit. The mining operator may leave in place the mining minerals excavated from the mine, and the buildings and other constructions on the ground for up to two years after termination of mining activity. Thereafter, they shall be transferred, free of charge, to the landowner, who may demand their removal at the operator’s cost.
The mining operator shall submit notification in writing to Tukes immediately after the restoration of the mining area has been completed. Having received the notification, Tukes shall arrange a final inspection unless this can be regarded prima facie as unnecessary. In the final inspection, Tukes shall establish whether the fundamental bulk of the measures have been completed, and assess the elements necessary for protection of public and private interests.
The parties invited to the final inspection include the operator and other parties involved that the matter particularly concerns, landowners in particular, representatives of the local authority concerned, the Centre of Economic Development, Transport and the Environment in the operating area and, if necessary, other authorities supervising public interests in their fields. An inspection report shall be compiled on the final inspection, including a report of the course of the inspection and observations made during the inspection, alongside the key parts of any reminders and opinions issued.
Tukes shall make a decision to terminate mining activity once the measures related to the termination of mining activity have been completed.
Returning possession of a mining area
Once a decision to terminate mining activity has become legally valid, the mining operator’s right of use and right of possession to the mining area shall be terminated alongside the right of use and other rights to the auxiliary area of the mine. At the same time, the areas in question will be returned to the possession of the landowner, free of charge.
After termination of mining activity, the mining operator shall remain responsible for monitoring of the mining area and auxiliary area to the mine, in compliance with the orders issued in the mining permit, or those in the decision to terminate mining activity, alongside the necessary corrective measures and the costs incurred therein. The operator is entitled to access the mining area and auxiliary area to the mine in order to fulfil these obligations. The mining operator shall inform Tukes of all significant detrimental impacts on public safety detected during monitoring, and implement, without delay, the necessary corrective measures. Tukes may issue orders concerning the corrective measures necessary.
Should the mining operator no longer exist, should it be unavailable, or if it cannot be made to comply with the obligation, where monitoring of the mining area or auxiliary area to the mine is necessary for reasons related to public safety, the possessor of the area shall be responsible for the monitoring and corrective measures required. However, the possessor of the area shall be held responsible for monitoring only if the possessor knew or should have known the condition of the area when acquiring it and the responsibility for monitoring and required corrective measures is not apparently unreasonable. When the possessor of the area cannot be obliged to assume responsibility, or the area in question is one for which the right of possession and use have been returned to the landowner, Tukes shall nevertheless be responsible for monitoring and corrective measures.