We cannot run our climate conversion with the help of metals and minerals from undemocratic states with low environmental requirements. Sweden has one of the toughest environmental laws in the world and the Swedish mines are among the most environmentally and climate efficient there is. The mining of metals and minerals therefore needs to increase here, says Svemin CEO Maria Sunér Fleming and chairman Mikael Staffas in today’s Dagens Samhälle.
A conflict researcher from Diakonia describes how he saw with his own eyes how metals and minerals are extracted by miners under the supervision and threat of soldiers (SVT Rapport, Oct. 26). The outside world’s need for metals and minerals drives demand. It places requirements on all of us who have the opportunity to produce – and on society in the form of increased acceptance for a development of the mining industry here in Sweden.
Sweden has a bedrock that is rich in metals and minerals, especially compared to the rest of Europe. Once upon a time, it laid the foundation for our emerging welfare society. Despite an increased servification of society, it is still the bedrock that forms the body of Sweden’s real backbone industries.
Beneath our feet there are assets of social bearing metals such as iron and copper. There are also battery metals and minerals such as cobalt and graphite. Furthermore, there are rare earth metals that are needed for wind turbines and other renewable energy technology. All these raw materials are a prerequisite for the green transition.
More than half of the elements on the EU’s recently updated list of critical raw materials are in this country. That is why Sweden has a special responsibility. We cannot continue to run our climate conversion with the help of metals and minerals from undemocratic states with low environmental requirements. Here in Sweden, we have one of the toughest environmental laws in the world and the Swedish mines are among the most environmentally and climate efficient there is. We are proud of that.
Nowadays, it is not only our products that are exported but also our innovations. And a strong innovation climate is the key to a long-term sustainable and responsible industry that competes every day in a global market. The Swedish mining cluster, with both strong mining companies and successful equipment manufacturers, conducts intensive innovation work. Together, we are behind several groundbreaking development projects, both in the short and long term:
- Hybrit, the largest technology shift in the iron and steel industry in 1000 years, will alone reduce Sweden’s carbon dioxide emissions by ten percent and also form a model for the whole world.
- Sustainable Underground Mining (SUM) sets a completely new world standard for mining at great depths. It will be a carbon dioxide-free, autonomous and digitized mine.
- Electrification of Sweden’s heaviest vehicle fleet. Mining trucks are being rebuilt to run on electricity instead of diesel.
- Energy efficiency through advanced ventilation control. Minimizes energy consumption for underground operations.
All this, and much more, is going on right now in our industry. Nevertheless, mines face recurring indecision by politicians and authorities are often perceived as unable to make overall trade-offs. This is a threat to the mining industry’s opportunities to be a part of tomorrow and it is a real threat to the fossil-free life the whole society has signed up to.
We believe that if more people get the overall picture clear to themselves, more of them would reflect on what metals and minerals we actually surround ourselves with and how these enable the life we often take for granted. We also believe that more people would see the benefits of mining metals and minerals here – instead of there. Therefore, it is good that SVT Rapport addresses the issue.
What is under our feet once laid the foundation for our stable welfare society. Today, it is helping to build the green society.
Photo: Mats Hillblom/Boliden, Svemin
The debate article was published in Dagens Samhälle (dagenssamhalle.se) on October 30, 2020.