Government proposal to Parliament for amendments to the Mining Act
The Government proposes that amendments be made to certain regulations of the Mining Act relating to prospecting and mining operations. The basic solutions of the Mining Act are not being changed.
The current Mining Act came into force on 1 July 2011. The aim of the Mining Act is to secure the prerequisites for mining, prospecting, and gold panning in a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable manner. The Government’s amendment proposal, presented to Parliament on 23 February, would lighten permit procedures and regulations that have been found to be unnecessary from the point of view of the goals of the current Act. In addition, an increase in needs testing by mining authorities is proposed with regards to certain permit procedures.
The proposed amendments would streamline official procedures and lighten the administrative burden for operators, statement providers and authorities responsible for permit processes. At the same time, the amendments would free up officials’ resources for monitoring mining activities
Serving as a basis for the drafting process have been the comments on the effectiveness of the Mining Act collected publicly last year by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, various suggestions and experiences collected from different authorities and statements on desired changes to the Mining Act received through a circulation for comment.
The key amendments proposed relate to mining safety permits, prospecting permits and the timing of required reports. The proposal to apply needs testing to mining safety permit requirements is justified in situations where the permit application relates to a small expansion to the area of an operating mine and the demand for a mining safety permit is clearly unnecessary when considering the area’s purpose of use. The lightening of the procedures for waiving prospecting permit requirements can be justified as the matter relates to the removal of an encumbrance within the land area. The lightening of these waiving procedures does not impact the operator's liability to provide compensation for any possible damages caused by prospecting operations.
The proposed amendments to the Act would not impact the authorities’ permit considerations. The amendments would not affect the environmental impacts of mining activities nor the status of parties concerned. The change to the timing of environment-related reports would clarify operators’ preferential arrangements and improve the content of the required reports, but would not change the reporting requirements.
The Mining Act stipulates that the consideration of permits is based on a comprehensive process of examination. In making decisions on permits, equal consideration must be given to the needs of exploration and mining operations, the environment, people and the economy. Mining authorities have the right to conduct monitoring and also have sufficient means of administrative constraint for intervening in cases of criminal activity and negligence.
The act is intended to enter into force on 1 July 2017.
Hannu Väänänen, Special Adviser to the Minister of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Employment and the Economy, tel. +358 (0)50 410 4909
Senior Adviser, Mineral policy Riikka Aaltonen, MEAE, tel. +358 (0)29 506 4216