An open pit at the multi-metal mine of Terrafame in Sotkamo, Eastern Finland, on 3 October 2018. (Kimmo Rauatmaa – Lehtikuva)

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FINNISH AUTHORITIES are unable to sufficiently supervise the operations of mines.

Helsingin Sanomat on Saturday revealed that permit authorities are currently struggling to verify the information presented in permit applications, whereas supervisory authorities only take the necessary samples in special circumstances.

“If we think about extremely large projects by industrial companies, I doubt any permit authority in Finland has the resources to check every detail in the application,” said Erkki Kantola, the head of the Regional State Administrative Agency (AVI) for Northern Finland.

Kai Kokko, a professor of environmental law at the University of Helsinki, stated to the newspaper that he is worried about the impartiality of information, as the responsibility for supervision is shifting from authorities to consultancies hired by mining companies to conduct the assessments and produce the information required for permit applications.

“We’re talking about key contents produced by consultancies, the purpose of which is to convince the public and authorities. The consultants have ethical obligations, but you have to keep in mind that they’ve been hired by mining companies,” he said.

Kokko reminded that it is the duty of the authorities to protect the interests of nature conservation. Yet, the Centres of Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres) only take samples in special circumstances and do not have their own laboratories for analysing them.

Eira Luokkanen, the head of environmental protection at the ELY Centre for Lapland, viewed that a parallel system is required to better evaluate the reliability of the results.

“I have no problem saying out loud that we’re really stretching our resources. It’s generally impossible to take are of everything in supervision in a way that's sufficient,” she commented to Helsingin Sanomat.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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