Cementa, LKAB and Kaunis Iron – rarely have permit issues been in focus as much as in recent months. That is why the mining industry is now presenting a comprehensive reform package with 27 proposals.
-We have whined about the problems for a long time, but with this reform package we want to help politicians unlock today’s inefficient and development-inhibiting permit system, says Maria Sunér, CEO of Svemin.
High climate ambitions are directly related to an increased need for metals and minerals. If society is to manage net-zero, the need for raw materials will increase 6 times today’s needs – and many times more for certain energy-critical metals. We see how many of the major industrial and social investments that are now being made in Sweden are based on the value chain that starts in our bedrock. And there is great potential to extract more.
The Swedish mining and mineral industry, which is already today a leading supplier of sustainably produced raw materials, has set ambitious goals for fossil-freedom and biodiversity: fossil-free mining processes by 2035 and subsequent process steps in 2045 and to contribute net positively to biodiversity by 2030 at the latest.
-But despite the possibilities, we see how the development is going in the wrong direction. Sweden falls on the lists of attractiveness as a mining nation. If nothing is done about this politically, there is a great risk that an entire sector will be phased out instead of being developed, says Maria Sunér.
Of course, relevant and high environmental requirements must be set for our operations, as well as for all other operations that affect the environment. The Swedish mining industry is and will continue to be a global leader in terms of sustainable extraction of metal and minerals.
-But the policy’s handling of the mining industry’s permit processes in recent years unfortunately signals that the mining industry should not bother in Sweden. It is time for a new take on Swedish mineral policy and the granting of permits for mining and mineral activities. For the climate transition, for jobs and for the mining and mineral nation of Sweden, says Maria Sunér.
Svemin’s reform package for efficient permitting processes was presented during Svemin’s Environmental Conference, on October 26.
Note – Svemin’s reform package for efficient permit processes is currently only available in Swedish, but the reform package will be translated into English. More information about the English version will come in due course.
Svemin’s reform package contains a total of 27 turnkey reform proposals in four main areas:
- Change the legislation to focus more on the sustainable development in the examination. The examination must be broadened to also include responsibility for the development of society. This can be done by developing the assessment criteria in the Environmental Code and giving the authorities clearer instructions. A new authority with the task of assessing the whole process should be appointed.
- Tighten the environmental permit process. The current environmental permit review does not live up to the legislator’s requirements for efficiency in Swedish courts. In order to strengthen Sweden’s attractiveness as an industrial nation, judicial review must be reformed. This involves, for example, setting a maximum time limit for permit review in accordance with the Environmental Code, strengthening the court’s role and setting clear requirements and expectations for participating authorities.
- Secure society’s access to minerals. Minerals play a crucial role in societal development and the climate transition, but the Minerals Act has lost importance over time. The Minerals Act must be valued and given greater weight when balancing other interests. The national interest in minerals needs to be valued.
- Increase the attractiveness of exploration. It is difficult to find mineral deposits that are economically profitable to extract. For Sweden to remain an attractive mining nation, the permit process must be streamlined. These include reforming The Mining Inspectorate of Sweden (Bergsstaten), introducing a maximum time limit for handling cases according to the Minerals Act, extending the initial permit period and enabling processing concessions without prior Natura 2000 review, which should instead be reviewed in connection with the application for an environmental permit.