28/06/2019

The mining industry can support the building of a responsible world

The first half of 2019 is coming to an end, so now is a good time to take a look back. Much has happened in the mining industry, and it still has more to give in the area of responsibility.

Katri Kauppila
Sustainability and Communications Manager, Finnish Minerals Group

The impact of climate change on life on earth has remained a hot topic throughout the first half of the year. One way to mitigate climate change is to cut the carbon dioxide emissions from transport by switching from cars using oil-based fuels to electric cars. According to the latest IEA statistics published in May, there were over 5 million electric passenger cars in the world in 2018, and the growth has been fast.

The production of batteries for electric cars requires metals from mines, especially nickel, cobalt and lithium, which are found here in Finland. By developing the domestic electric vehicle battery (EVB) value chain, we can take responsibility for the raw materials processing using modern technology under appropriate safety and working conditions. At the same time, we create jobs and economic prosperity in Finland.

Coal-based energy is on the way out

Germany’s plans to gradually switch to energy production free of coal and brown coal over the next 20 years have been major news in Europe and around the world. The last coal mine in Germany was closed at the end of 2018, and brown coal mines are likely to be shut down in the next few years. In Finland, a law that prohibits the use of coal for energy from 2029 onwards came into force this spring.

Coal-free energy production is very likely to mean an increase in the share of renewable energy. Even so, the change will not succeed without raw materials from mining. Many other mines have metals to offer, for example, for the equipment and batteries needed in the production of wind and solar energy.

Improving the environmental protection of mines

This heading is from the Finnish Government Programme published in June, but it is also the job of many mining professionals in Finland. At our domestic mines, experts design and develop energy-efficient production processes, environmental protection structures and the minimisation of emissions as well as monitor operations and report on them to the supervisory authorities. Material efficiency, recycling and waste management are considered at the same time. Thoughts are exchanged especially with local residents, but mines attract interested visitors more widely as well.

Environmental protection is important in all industrial activities including mining. For the global-minded, it is important that we also have mining domestically and are not pushing these operations somewhere else where environmental issues may not be integrated with daily work.

It’s time for more diversity in the mining industry

A lot has also been written about the diversity of personnel early in the year. Taking diversity into account extends from recruitment to career planning and keeping employees. A responsible work community makes good use of people’s differences and is able to put together teams where different kinds of people can shine.

Mines are known around the world as workplaces for men, even though the duties in the field are suitable for others as well. People with surprisingly different educational backgrounds are also needed in the mining industry. I believe that many mines in Finland are hoping for a wider spectrum of applicants and are ready to promote diversity in working life.