CHANGES TO FINLAND’S MINING ACT that would increase levies and tax premiums paid by foreign and domestic mining companies are being considered by the government, following renewed debate over the activities and impact of said companies.
Finland’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Mika Lintilä, confirmed to Yle today that the government was seriously considering amendments to the Mining Act that would seek to minimize the damage caused by mining companies whilst also extracting greater revenues from them.
The Mining Act has long attracted plenty of criticism for its supposed deficiencies when it comes to taking a hardline stance against environmentally destructive mining. As things currently stand, mining companies in Finland enjoy very little regulation from the state in comparison with European counterparts.
Revenues from mining are also taxed relatively lightly, while the state does not automatically claim ownership over mineral resources in Finnish territory, allowing foreign companies to stake their own claim.
Such a friendly regulatory environment has led to Finland becoming one of the top mining destinations on the planet, particularly for gold mining, with several such sites currently in operation.
Controversy over the role of foreign mining companies has flared up again in recent weeks, following reports from Iltalehti that one of the biggest companies working in Finland, Dragon Mining, had assured the HK Stock Exchange that any legal complaints made against them would have little effect, as the gold mines they operate would be cleared long before the state could properly respond to the complaints.
Although reports from the Ministry of Economic Affairs confirm that Dragon Mining has not received any legal complaints since receiving their environmental permit in 2011, activists and politicians have suggested that the company’s attitude clearly shows that legal changes are necessary and that mining companies be held accountable.
Changes to the taxation of mining companies and bankruptcy laws concerning such companies will be discussed in Parliament in the coming months.
Adam Oliver Smith – HT