Proposals to enhance the competitiveness of aggregate and natural stone industries

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment 28.10.2015 9.00
Press release
The working group on future prospects and bottlenecks for growth of aggregate and natural stone industries presented its report to the stakeholders in a seminar entitled "Aggregates in Circular Economy" in Espoo on 28 October. According to the working group, led by the Ministry of the Employment and the Economy, Government measures are also needed to develop the sector, even if for the most part competitiveness is the responsibility of the industries themselves.  Government action is needed, in particular, to secure the conditions for international competitiveness. Most of the companies in the aggregates sector are SMEs, which means that they may lack the resources to invest in further processing, development of service concepts and technologies, or export efforts. This is why closer collaboration between different actors, better business models and service systems, and more research is needed. For smoother permit procedures and control the working group proposes a so-called One Stop Shop approach combined with digitalisation, allowing the user-driven type of activity important for SMEs. Together these would considerably ease the administrative burden of companies. Appeal procedures should also be developed in a way that the number of appeals coming to the Administrative Courts would decrease and permit procedures would take less time.   Public procurement may also have a role in promoting the development of new innovation and service platforms. Municipalities and the state are significant customers in infrastructure construction. By developing guidelines and training the procurement processes can be steered towards even better compliance with the objectives of sustainable development. Instructions should be provided for the municipal and state procurement processes so that development and service operations improving the quality could be incorporated into purchases. Under the current law good quality in procurement may also take account of environmental issues and social perspectives. The working group stresses the importance of securing the research, development and innovation activities through universities and research institutes as the opportunities of SMEs to invest in product development are quite limited. The companies should have more cooperation with the research organisations, while research projects should be constructed in a way that would also allow the SMEs to participate in them. Prospects for development are identified, in particular, in raising value added and increasing exports, development of technologies (e.g. excavation of aggregates as an underground mine), increase in research, development and innovation activities, education and training, and land use planning taking account of the needs of the aggregates sector. Sustainable management in the aggregates sector is based on recycling of aggregates and wider utilisation of side-streams in land construction. Better logistics systems and chains would also improve the efficiency of the operations and reduce climate-related emissions. The publication of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy (54/2015) "Development of aggregate and natural stone industries in Finland" is available at www.tem.fi/julkaisut Inquiries:
Director Kirsti Loukola-Ruskeeniemi, Ministry of Employment and the Economy, kirsti.loukola-ruskeeniemi(at)tem.fi