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Lapland to host Finland's biggest mine

YLE NewsEye on the Arctic

The Canadian firm First Quantum Minerals has received permission to expand its nickel mine in Sodankylä, Lapland. The Kevitsa mine is now cleared to become the biggest in Finland, with permission from the northern Finland regional administration to excavate some 10 million metric tons each year. The North Finland regional administration announced the decision last Friday.

The mine’s owners will have to pay an increased level of compensation for damage to fish stocks, as the mine’s waste water discharges will increase and the fish population is likely to suffer as a result, according to the administration.

The company will have to put up about $19 million of collateral to ensure proper waste management and cleanup.

First Quantum Minerals had sought permission for bigger operations two years ago, before the mine opened. The mine’s previous manager Andrew Reid had been quoted in Lapin Kansa and Talouselämä as saying that without permits to excavate more ore the mine would shut down in September.

The mine is located in Sodankylä, one of Finland’s most isolated communities, known as a tourist destination and for its Midnight Sun film festival, which draws top names to Lapland every year. The town is also in one of Finland’s poorest regions. Average incomes in Lapland in 2012 were $46,867, which was $11,954 lower than the average in Uusimaa.

Recent growth in Finland’s mining industry has focused attention on the balance between mining’s economic benefits and the environmental damage it can cause. At the end of 2013, 46 mines and quarries were operating in Finland, the majority in poorer rural areas of the country.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.