Peat production and mining

67) Reduce the degradation of ecosystem services due to business operations, such as peat production and mining, for example, by reducing environmental impacts detrimental to nature and recreational use, and to traditional Sámi livelihoods, particularly where discharges into water and other emissions are involved, by enhancing the effectiveness of the sector’s own environmental protection measures, implemented using the best available technology.

   
Responsible institutions: Ministry of Employment and the Economy, Ministry of the Environment

   
Schedule: 2013–2020

   

Status in 2018: The communication and exchange of information between the environmental administration and mining corporations have been improved. A voluntary environmental certificate has been introduced for mines. In 2015, the environmental authorities and mining corporations organised for the first time the joint event ”Environment and Mining”, which included discussions on, for example, legislative requirements and technological development.

The network for sustainable mining started in 2014, and it has been developing a environmental certification system for mines, in which class C denotes that the requirements are fulfilled, and the best possible class is AAA. The classification system will be customised to Finnish conditions.

The consequences of mining for inland waters and water management have been scrutinised especially after the damming accident of Talvivaara. In the extensive Kaihali Project, the water assessment system was extended to assess the dilution of mining waters and an operating model was generated to restore polluted lakes.

In the 2010s, peat production facilities have developed water management by establishing more than 100 overland flow fields for nutrent and organic compound retention. In addition, in some areas, chemicals have been introduced and dams of limestone have been built to neutralise acidic waters. Since 2012, the water conservation outcome of old production facilities has been enhanced so that all areas have at least one wetland or field for overland flow. In the environmental licences of new production facilities, an all-year field for overland flow is required.

The supervision of the water protection of production facilities has been increased, and the water pollution load is being measured continuously throughout the year. At its most extensive phase, there were over 30 measurement stations, and now there are ten.

The transition of areas from peat production for other land use purposes has been accelerated. The most common alternatives are reforestation, cultivation or wetlands. By the end of 2018, about 1500 hectares (60 sites) of peat production areas have been transformed into wetlands.  Thanks to quick succession, the wetlands develop quickly into biodiverse areas and sanctuaries for birds. 

Since 2012, the largest peat producer Vapo Oy has sold or exchanged over 3700 hectares of areas reserved for peat production in favour of peatland protection. In addition, the second largest producer Turveruukki has allocated about 2 000 hectares of peatland to protection in North Ostrobothnia. Approximately 250 ha of these areas were owned by Turveruukki.