Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 142

142 Arctic Yearbook 2015 In Greenland the public debate has challenged the acceptability of the mining industry on the basis of weak government mining policy and poorly conducted public participation (Arctic Journal 2013b; Arctic Journal 2013c; Jacobsen 2014). Historically, the aim of mining expansion is nothing new in Greenland but the Self Government Act of 2009 stimulated further anticipations towards mining. By the end of 2013, various legal and political reforms such as the abolishment of the zero-tolerance policy on uranium mining and allowance of hiring the foreign workers for mining projects have generated heated public debate. One of the primary concerns has been the lack of public participation in the decision-making around mining. The government has sought to enhance the situation by introducing a pre-hearing process and a fund to support the participation of various stakeholders in the impact assessment processes (Government of Greenland 2014: 90-94). In Sweden, the question of acceptability has not received much attention yet. A recent study examined the practices of Swedish mining companies in gaining social acceptance. It indicated that the mining companies with a long history in Sweden have, over the time, gained the acceptance of the surrounding society whereas the newer companies face criticism even with extensive efforts to gain social acceptance (Tarras-Wahlberg 2014). Typically, the mining conflicts in Sweden are related to land use, reindeer herding and environmental values (e.g. Local 2013; BBC 2014). However, the absence of intense public discussion on mining may be partly explained by the characteristics of Sweden as a country of interest group politics where political activity rarely takes place in the form of open public debate (Lundqvist 2004). Also, there have not been major incidents in the Swedish mining sector during the recent years to trigger a more heated conversation. Despite the large number of mining areas and activities in Russia and the low number of observed company-community conflicts, the social acceptance of mining in Russia is not of big concern or debate (Polishchuk 2009; Riabova & Didyk 2014; Walker 2011). Historically, and also due to social and political reasons, mining companies in Russia are not facing big challenges in getting social acceptance (Riabova & Didyk, 2014). First, local people traditionally accept mining activities in the northern region. During Soviet times, the Arctic communities were settled near industry, often in close proximity to a mineral deposit (see Bolotova & Stammler 2010). Many Russians moved to the North following the establishment of industrial enterprise in the territory. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a number of industrial-based towns have disappeared, however many still exist and enjoy some of the new opportunities for socio-economic development and employment. Secondly, the Russian civil society remains quite weak and SLO has not risen to the public agenda in a similar way as in the Nordic countries. Coexistence with indigenous people and traditional livelihoods The pressure on land use in the European Arctic is increasing because of economic and environmental reasons (Strategic Assessment of… 2014a). In the Finnish and Swedish mining strategies, coexistence of mining with other land uses and livelihoods is an important issue (Finland’s Minerals Strategy 2010: 13; MEE 2013; Government Offices of… 2013). Northern parts of Finland and Sweden have a number of competing land use interests including recreational use, mining, environmental protection, reindeer husbandry, and energy production (Strategic Assessment of… 2014b; Government Offices of… 2013: 26-27). Governance of Sustainable Mining in Arctic Countries