Building trust with Sami communities: Boliden's approach
Boliden promotes open dialogue and long-term cooperation with Sami communities in order to mitigate the negative impacts of its mining activities on local people and the environment.
Boliden's operations in northern Sweden, including the Boliden Area and the Aitik mine, are situated within reindeer herding areas and close to Sami villages. Such sites require an approach that builds trust with local stakeholders and mitigates negative impacts on local people and the environment.
Anders Forsgren, Senior Project Manager, Business Development, at Boliden Mines explains, "When we carry out exploration or mining activities in northern Sweden, we always come into contact with the Sami community, and our interests sometimes overlap. It is then important to engage in open dialogue and cooperation with local communities to build trust and help find mutually beneficial solutions that mitigate negative impacts."
Laver: An example of local stakeholder involvement
Laver is one of Boliden's mine development projects, situated within the Sami village of Semisjaur-Njarg. When developing new mines, Boliden considers various alternatives in cooperation with local stakeholders with the aim of developing the project to avoid or minimise the mine-related impacts. In the case of a possible mine in Laver, which could cover an area of almost 50 km2, some impacts are unavoidable and Boliden is in the process of agreeing appropriate solutions and compensation measures with the Sami community.
Members of the Semisjaur-Njarg village, local authorities and the general public have been involved in this process from the outset through regular stakeholder meetings to discuss potential impacts and project alternatives, including the timing of specific activities, mitigation measures and environmental planning to safeguard the nearby Piteälven Natura 2000 area.
"We have held several large public information meetings involving around 200 people, as well as smaller meetings with members of the Semisjaur-Njarg village, and several with the local authorities," summarises Forsgren.
The meetings are held to establish how the Sami currently use the land, identify the potential impacts that a mine in the area would have on these activities, and investigate potential mitigation and appropriate compensation measures. Direct impacts include the loss of reindeer pasture, noise disturbance and the increased risk of traffic accidents involving reindeer.
"Potential solutions being discussed include the creation of a reindeer collection paddock north of the site to allow reindeer to be easily gathered after a migration and fencing along the busiest roads to reduce the number of traffic accidents involving reindeer. We will also compensate those affected for lost reindeer pasture or the negative effects of noise," explains Forsgren.
One key innovative measure is to reduce the site's tailings footprint by 300-600 hectares by depositing waste rock together with the tailings. This practice is very unusual, with only a few cases in the world.
Ongoing discussions with local stakeholders are carefully considered and will form a basis for Boliden's project planning at Laver over time. By involving local residents throughout the planning process, Boliden promotes good community relations and can avoid potential issues in the future.