Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 139

139 Arctic Yearbook 2015 effects of the industry (UNEP 2002; Bastida 2002: 5). In practice, the key regulatory framework for mining includes mining laws, which constitute the general framework, and are supported by environmental policies and regulations, as well as environmental impact assessment (EIA) and land use planning systems. In addition to the ‘hard law’ instruments governing the mining industry, countries and companies have also developed their own ‘soft law’ instruments such as sustainability principles and CSR practices. In addition, all four countries have introduced a variety of guiding principles and best practices to be followed. For example, Finland and Sweden have recommendations regarding exploration and mining activities in areas with particular environmental, cultural or other interests. In Finland, there is also guidance for stakeholder engagement in exploration and for practices supporting environmental regulation and socially sustainable mines in the north (Eerola 2013; Kokko et al. 2013). In Finland, the central mining regulations are the Mining Act, the Environmental Protection Act and the Act on Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure (468/1994). The new Mining Act has been perceived as an improvement in terms of environmental governance, participation possibilities of local communities (Pölönen 2012) and rights of Sami People (Pettersson et al. 2015: 238). In 2011, the Finnish Environment Institute published a guide on the best environmental practices for metallic mineral mines (Kauppila et al. 2011). In 2013, some changes were made to environmental legislation and extra tests were required for mining sites because of the water pollution problems at the Talvivaara mine (Tiainen et al. 2014). In Finland, the EIA has two stages: an assessment program and an assessment report. The Finnish EIA typically involves two hearings; one in each stage of the process (Pettersson et al. 2015: 246-247; 251). In Finland, the social impacts are to be considered during the EIA. A special guidance for EIA in mining was published just recently which should improve the management of local mining conflicts (TEM 2015). Recently, Finland has examined the possibilities for streamlining the EIA process with the permitting process (Tarasti et al. 2015). In Sweden, mining activities are regulated under the Minerals Act (1991:45) and the Minerals Ordinance (1992: 285) (SGU 2007). The environmental aspects are under the Environmental Code (1998: 808) (Michanek 2008). In addition, a set of other regulations such as the Reindeer Husbandry Act and the Planning and Building Act are of relevance. The Swedish legal framework has somewhat conflicting purposes between the two major laws, as the Minerals Act simply promotes exploitation and the Environmental Code sustainable development (Pettersson et al. 2015: 251). In Sweden, the specific requirements for the EIA can vary depending on if the environmental impacts of the project are potentially significant (Legislative Bill 2005: 53). The process frequently involves one hearing (Pettersson et al. 2015: 251). Social Impact Assessment (SIA) is not required by law and typically, the social impacts of mining are overlooked though some companies voluntarily undertake SIA (Pettersson et al. 2015: 238). The Swedish practices are seen as inadequate at properly considering the so called “zero-option,” cumulative impacts and lack true discussions on a project’s alternative contents (Longueville & Carlman 2013; Oscarsson 2006; Pettersson et al. 2015: 214). At the same time, some of the current provisions on EIA under the Environmental Code have been criticized for being overly complex and difficult to apply. To reduce the bureaucracy associated with mining, the Tiainen, Sairinen & Sidorenko