Concern over how bad performance will effect financing behind poor support
The Finnish Network for Sustainable Mining has been operating since May 2014. The network was set up as a platform for cooperation between the mining industry and its key stakeholders. Nowadays, it is comprised of representatives from the mining industry and two environmental NGOs, the local farmers’ and landowners’ union,the reindeer herders’ association, one of the biggest labour unions, a regional association from Lapland, and so on.
During the past six years, it has produced a number of instruments promoting sustainability among the mining and exploration companies operating in Finland.Apart from a toolbox for local practices and CSR reporting, the network developed separate sustainability standards for mining and exploration based on the methodology used in the Canadian model Towards Sustainable Mining.
Once established, the network organised training courses on the implementation of the standards. In addition, it provided the necessary training to external auditors,which would be required every three years in the verification of the implementation of these standards.
So far,around 10 mining companies have adopted the new standard and made the first self-assessments of its implementation. However, a similar number of mining companies remain still outside of the standard. Clearly, some of them seem reluctant to take the additional step of integrating these new measures into their operations.
As to the standard on exploration, its structure was recently revised in close collaboration with the exploration sector and its stakeholders. It remains unclear,however, whether exploration companies will proceed with its implementation –their proposal to introduce a new system for validation, where each company would have received an overall result based on their replies to all questions,irrespective of the level of the standard, was rejected by the network. Hence,we will proceed with the same approach as for TSM, where all requirements in one level will have to be met before moving to the next one.
Clearly,some of the exploration companies fear that this could have serious implications to their fundraising if they receive a lower grade than expected from the standard. It remains to be seen whether these fears would materialise in practice.
The network is facing additional challenges due to conflicting interests between other livelihoods, namely tourism and reindeer herding. In both cases, it has been difficult to accommodate their needs without immediately undermining new developments.
There are, however, some examples where the strict environmental requirements have been met without jeopardising existing livelihoods. These examples should be used as a model of how all mining and exploration activities should be planned and implemented in the future.
Mining Journal Stakeholder Engagement is a platform for conversation between the mining industry and key stakeholders. The programme is designed to help set a practical path to better engagement, reduced risk and better practices.
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