Sustainability Topic: Biodiversity

304–1  Operational sites in, or adjacent to, protected areas and areas of high biodiversity values

Sites located in or adjacent to protected area can be found in the table below.

Sites

Operation

Country

Size, ha

Protected areas

         

Aitik

Mine

Sweden

7,498

Yes1) 2)

Bergsöe

Smelter

Sweden

13

Yes2)

Boliden Area

Mine

Sweden

5,425

Yes2)

Garpenberg

Mine

Sweden

1,447

No

Harjavalta

Smelter

Finland

452

Yes2)

Kevitsa

Mine

Finland

1,420

Yes1) 2)

Kokkola

Smelter

Finland

340

Yes2)

Kylylahti

Mine

Finland

654

Yes1) 2)

Odda

Smelter

Norway

40

No

Rönnskär

Smelter

Sweden

153

Yes2)

Tara

Mine

Ireland

885

Yes2)

Old mining areas and forests

Sweden

5,281

Yes1) 2) 3)

1) In the area

2) Adjacent to (closer than 5 km)

3) Containing portions of area

304–2  Significant impacts of activities, products, and services on biodiversity

Boliden’s impacts on biodiversity are above all related to land use in current or abandoned operations. As of 31 December 2019, Boliden owned or controlled 23,600 (23,000) ha of land in connection with existing operations, in areas adjacent to existing or former operations, or in other areas of interest for exploration.

Most operations are located in areas where mining or smelting activities have been carried out for anything between several decades and several hundred years. Some of the older mining and industrial areas are from a time when environmental legislation did not exist and knowledge levels were much less developed than is currently the case, and it is consequently not only impossible to determine an original baseline, but difficult to quantify the precise long-term impact of the activities. For every operation there is a permit process. During the environmental permitting process, it is necessary to define the location related to conservation areas and to assess the possible impacts on biodiversity. After closing the operation, the land area has to been restored to base state. Boliden always ensures that the areas occupied by smelters can be reclaimed after the operation’s closure.

Closure and remediation plans, including biodiversity aspects, are a mandatory part of the environmental permit issued to operate a smelter. For time-limited operations, such as mines, Boliden always ensures that the areas can be reclaimed after mine closure. Strategies are constantly being developed for the definition of proper compensation measures for application when utilizing land and thus causing a loss of biodiversity. Closure and remediation plans, including biodiversity aspects, are a manda­tory part of the environmental permit issued to operate a mine.

304–3  Habitats protected and restored

All land and forests owned or leased are managed in forest management plans for each site. Each forest management plan has a register divided into separate areas and linked to maps showing them. Protected areas and discoveries of protected and listed species are registered and described as well as areas with high value forest for future development to raise the values. None of the ­operational sites, including the protected areas, are considered to be in high biodiversity areas.

For new mining projects a specific inventory of natural values is always carried out early on in the project to enable development of the project according to the mitigation hierarchy.

All inventories and how the project development has proceeded according to the mitigation hierarchy is described in the application for an environmental permit.

Boliden has also initiated one of Sweden’s most comprehensive research projects investigating ecological compensation in ­collaboration with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).

The abandoned mining site of Näsliden, where after-treatment has been carried out in consultation with local residents to create ecological and social added value is, another example of Boliden’s approach.

304–4  IUCN Red List species and national conservation list species with habitats in areas affected by operations

Boliden continues to monitor and manage the areas that have been reclaimed for an indeterminate period of time, and this may, if necessary, entail implementing additional measures in already reclaimed areas. Where appropriate, reclamation is done in partnership with affected land owners.

There are various types of protected areas in the vicinity of the majority of Boliden’s mining operations, such as wildlife and plant sanctuaries, key biotopes, protected watercourses of national interest, nature reserves, and Natura 2000 areas.

A list of prioritized reclamation objects has been prepared which is updated on the basis of the results of studies showing changes in the status of the respective objects. An object may be anything from measures designed to improve dam safety, or large-scale ground installation projects, to out-and-out nature conservation in the form of water treatment, planting, or the installation of nesting boxes for birds. Boliden’s interventions in older abandoned mining areas are often aimed at complementing the old techniques with new and improved methods.

Habitats
restored

Type of activity

Size, ha

Start

End

Rävlidmyran

Reclamation work

1

2017

2018

Långdal

Reclamation work

1

2019

2019

Långsele

Reclamation work

5,5

2018

2019

Gillervattnet

Reclamation work

300

2014

2019-21

Näsliden

Reclamation work

7

2015

2018

Holmtjärn

Reclamation work

3

2018

2019

Old Forests Aitik

Ecological compensation

837

2017

2022


Ecological compensation work has been ongoing at Boliden Aitik since 2017. Two areas totalling 837 hectares were selected for the compensation work. The goal is to maintain the value and, in parallel therewith, increase natural values in the near vicinity of the Aitik mine. The compensation plan includes both protection of selected areas and more active measures such as relocation of dead wood and biologically important species such as insects in hibernation and wood mushrooms. Boliden has also identified an opportunity for improving the prospects of recreational and adventure tourism. During 2019 additional dead wood has been tranported to the compensation areas. Dead wood has also been created at site and a trail has been marked and prepared for recreation.

MM1  Amount of land disturbed or rehabilitated

Mining companies can often own or hold licenses over very large areas of land. The extraction sites, infrastructure, or other production activities will often disturb a small proportion of that land holding.

Soil conservation and the reclamation of mining areas which have reached the end of their productive lifespans are part of Boliden’s operations and responsibility. The reclamation programs are designed to reduce the impact on surrounding areas of land and local biological diversity. Boliden has made ongoing provisions of funds for future rehabilitation. At the end of 2019, a total of SEK 5,086 (4,016) million had been allocated for future reclamation of mining areas and smelters.

Land management (ha)

2017

2018

2019

       

Total land holding

23,000

23,100

23, 600

Disturbed and not yet
rehabilitated (opening balance)

6,805

6,881

7, 050

Disturbed in the reporting period

78

217

168

Rehabilitated in the reporting period

2

48

1

Disturbed and not yet rehabilitated (closing balance)

6,881

7,050

7, 217


New mines and the expansion of existing businesses

The establishment of new mines and the expansion of existing businesses require land utilization. The aim is to have minimum possible impact on biodiversity. Boliden’s operations shall be sustainable throughout the chain from prospecting and production to post-processing, and in the long-term. Boliden takes responsibility for the impact of its business operations and works proactively on loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. In practice, this means that Boliden not only avoids or minimizes the negative impact, but also adds or creates new values. The work is based on the four steps of the so-called harmless hierarchy; avoidance, minimization, restoration and offsets.

All of the relevant areas’ natural and cultural values are inventoried in an EIA, (Environmental Impact Assessment). The EIA makes it possible to measure the effects on the flora and fauna before, during, and after any operation is carried out. This inventory, or baseline, can be used as a reference when planning and utilizing the remediation actions. EIAs are also carried out and a current baseline established in conjunction with changes to existing operations.

During operations, different types of monitoring programs are set up, both according to permits and voluntary. The programs involve evaluation, for example of fish, algae in water and mosses, berries, fungi, reindeer grazing species, moor frogs, smews and tufted ducks. Ecological rehabilitation and compensation is continuously ongoing in several operations.

The majority of Boliden’s acreage in northern Scandinavia is adjacent to reindeer grazing land and Boliden prioritizes in-depth dialogues with representatives of the reindeer industry to ensure the optimum protection of their interests. This may, for example, entail ensuring that the reindeer herds can roam freely between grazing areas, or that grazing land is, as far as possible, maintained in an undisturbed condition and that the lichen and plants on which the reindeer feed are included in the flora planted when areas are reclaimed.

Boliden owns land and forests and practices responsible forestry, as defined by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC® FSC-C007235). This includes promoting and protecting biodiversity and creating environmental and social values. Boliden has assigned approximately 10% of its productive forested land for nature conservation. This area is partly protected through the establishment of nature conservation land, key habitats and habitat-protected areas, and partly managed to promote nature-conservation interests. The areas protected by Boliden mainly comprise older forests, wetland, and areas dominated by deciduous forest. Over time, some of the older forests are becoming more and more primeval. In areas dominated by deciduous forest, forestry is conducted in a way that prioritizes deciduous tree species. On the productive forested land, Boliden manages the forestry from a landscape ecology perspective.

In previous years, the Group’s forestry management in these areas has included prescribed felling, which is intended to benefit deciduous wooded pastures, and controlled burning in order to promote certain species and biological diversity. By adapting forest management in areas used for outdoor recreation, social values are created and maintained. Boliden’s ambition is for the wildlife on Boliden’s land to be in harmony with forestry, hunting, and other public interests. Current long-term plans extend for at least ten years and include remediation, planned measures, and allocated funding for a number of abandoned pit mines. Boliden is constantly working to develop new options for restoring impacted ecosystems and to identify opportunities to compensate for impact through offsets.

Boliden’s operations take advantage of exploration, mining, enrichment and transport. Boliden consequently conducts ongoing work designed to minimize the social and environmental impact.