Sweden's unique position as a mining nation must not be neglected
News commentary. There is great intensity in the mining issue right now, the subject got a lot of space in the party leader debate on TV4 the other day. We appreciate the clarity about the important role of the mining industry in the climate transition, for jobs and for ensuring our self-sufficiency in raw materials.
Sweden already has one of the world’s most climate-smart mining and mineral industries. In a new study from Material Economics, the climate benefit of the Swedish mining industry has been calculated. Swedish production is 70% less emission-intensive than the corresponding international production, which means that the international emissions are 6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide lower per year than they would otherwise be. This effect can eventually increase to around 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, if there are development opportunities.
The permit processes constitute the single biggest challenge for the mining industry’s opportunities to develop. In our Reform Package, we list some of the points linked to permit processes that we believe that policy should address in order for the Swedish mining industry to continue to be a global leader in terms of sustainable extraction of metal and minerals in the future.
Regarding the current issue of a mine in Kallak, Jokkmokk municipality, we would also like to make some clarifications, including about Sweden’s and the EU’s need for iron ore.
- Sweden is the EU’s largest producer of iron ore, we account for 93% (2020) of the entire EU’s total iron ore production. At the same time, only just under 30% of the EU’s need for iron ore is met by European sources, so the need for imports to the EU is great.
- Even if 100% of all steel were to be recycled, we would still need to add new material into the cycle to cover both today’s and future needs. A study that we presented in the autumn of 2021 – which is based on material from e.g. The OECD, the World Bank and the IEA – show that even if the recycling of metals were to increase to 100 percent by 2050, this would only reduce the need for primary raw materials by 15–30 percent.
- The 14 years that are stated as the service life of the mine in Kallak is actually about the company having a permit from Bergsstaten to drill just over 100 boreholes and based on these, the shortest perspective is 14 years. The mineralization is judged to be significantly greater than that, how extensive it is requires further investigations, which will be done when processing permits are in place. But the company can only report what Bergsstaten has given permission for in a first stage.
- Several of Sweden’s largest mines are significantly closer to the Laponia World Heritage Site than a mine in Kallak would be. Mines that have existed for decades and that coexist with affected Sami villages.
Sweden has a unique position as a mining nation in securing the supply of metals and minerals – and our member companies are by far the best at doing this. In order to continue to develop the mining industry and adapt to climate change, there are a number of measures we want politics to address – in the short and long term. The protracted and unpredictable permit processes not only stop the development of new mines in Sweden but also hinder or make impossible the development of and environmental improvement measures of existing mines.