Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 132

Governance of Sustainable Mining in Arctic Countries: Finland, Sweden, Greenland & Russia Heidi Tiainen, Rauno Sairinen & Olga Sidorenko Finland, Sweden, Greenland and Russia are all partly or fully Arctic countries that are seeking to develop new possibilities for mining and for promoting the regional economy in their respective northern territories. Even though mining can spur economic development and create new wealth within previously undeveloped regions, there is also the potential for causing negative environmental effects and irrevocably shaping the social dynamics of Arctic communities and indigenous ways of life. In this article, we will compare the national policy strategies, regulation and tools for sustainable Arctic mining. In addition, we will also review questions related to social acceptance, coexistence with indigenous people and traditional livelihoods as well as the state of corporate social responsibility. The four countries share the goal of sustainable mining at a strategic level and are influenced, to some extent, by global trends in mining, but the concrete governance of sustainable mining has evolved very differently in each country-specific context. Introduction and background Over the past decade governments, private investors and mining companies have begun to regard the Arctic as a promising source of mineral wealth with significant deposits of gold, diamonds, platinum, nickel kimberlite and other precious stones (Howard 2009). To some extent this interest reflects the increase in the market price of minerals, driven mainly by a massive growth in demand from China and other rising economies through increasing urbanization and population growth. The impact of climate change is also playing its part in creating new opportunities for the mining sectors. Vast new areas of land are becoming more accessible during longer periods of time during the year, thereby extending the working and exploration season by several weeks. Northern territories, which were previously unattainable, or where the costs of operation were too high to warrant development, are now becoming economical. This trend in the “opening” of the Arctic is expected to continue into the future. Mining and other natural resources industries are key economic drivers for Arctic countries and create new opportunities for development in their northern regions. In Finland and Sweden, for example, Heidi Tiainen is a Doctoral candidate, Rauno Sairinen is Professor & Olga Sidorenko is a Master’s student in Environmental Policy at the University of Eastern Finland.