Corona entails new uses for electronic tools
During the coronavirus crisis, we have made use of webinar and other digital tools as part of the EIA process concerning battery materials production.
The use of digital tools has been emphasised in the operations of Finnish Minerals Group during the coronavirus pandemic. This has been evident in internal work, collaboration relationships as well as in external communications.
According to CEO Matti Hietanen, the company’s staff works in close cooperation with other domestic and foreign organisations, and therefore electronic tools have been used frequently.
“We have increased further the use of remote meetings and other applications supporting communications during the coronavirus situation. At the same time, the electronic approach has expanded into new kinds of situations of cooperation,” Hietanen says.
Webinar as part of the EIA procedure
The coronavirus in Finland started rapidly to expand at the beginning of March. Finnish Minerals Group had just submitted the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) programme on behalf of its project company, Finnish Battery Chemicals Oy, to the coordinating authority.
“We were prepared to travel to Ostrobothnia and participate in the first public event on the EIA programme. Because of the spreading coronavirus, however, the local events were cancelled at the last minute. Nevertheless, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to provide information, so we immediately decided to arrange a webinar over the Internet,” says Vesa Koivisto, Senior Vice President, Battery Operations.
In connection with the decision to change over to webinar format, Finnish Minerals Group considered how the composition of the public might change with different implementation. The staff jointly estimated that a digital event could reach even more people who might not be able to participate in physical events on the other side of the city after work due to family reasons, for example. It was assumed that the webinar format would also offer flexibility for those who might want to concentrate on key points only.
The popularity of the webinar was a positive surprise. The event was followed live through more than 100 terminal devices and dozens of comments and questions were received through the chat function.
“The best thing about the webinar is that the recording can be viewed and listened to later, in case you were not able to join the webinar on that day,” Koivisto reminds.
Positive experiences from digital EIA
Digital tools were also highlighted in the preparation of the EIA programme. In addition to the traditional pdf document, a digital EIA programme was produced with a consultant. The digital version was attached to the material submitted to the coordinating authority and the link to it was published by both Finnish Minerals Group and the environmental administration.
The content of the digital EIA programme is a somewhat summarised version of the information in the EIA programme. On the other hand, it includes links to further information, which cannot be made available in a pdf document in a similar manner. For example, maps can be easily investigated in detail in the digital EIA.
“The digital EIA in itself has evoked curiosity and continues to do so. For us, it was another big digital leap towards local people. We will be interested in experimenting with new approaches in the future as well,” Koivisto says.