Biodiversity

Aspect Specific DMA

Access to large areas of land is essential to a majority of Boliden’s activities i.e. exploration, mining, and the construction of tailings ponds and dams. Boliden’s land holdings include key habitats, habitat protection areas, nature reserves and voluntary designated areas for nature conservation. Most of the mines are located in rural areas. The exception is Tara Mines, which is located near the community of Navan in Ireland. The smelters are all located in industrial areas adjacent to a community and close to the coast.

The establishment of new mines and the expansion of existing businesses require land to be utilised. The physical impact on surrounding areas of land of the opening of a mining operation, for example, is considerable. A substantial amount of forested land must often be cleared to create space for industrial activities. The aim is to have the minimum possible impact on biodiversity. Once the mine is operational, the impact continues in the form of waste products – such as waste rock and tailings sand – traffic, noise, dust and other emissions and discharges to air and water.

When new mines are opened in previously undisturbed areas, all of the relevant areas’ natural and cultural values are inventoried. This is part of the EIA, (Environmental Impact Assessment) which is a mandatory part of the permit application process for new activities. 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 utilising the remediation actions. EIA’s are also carried out and a current baseline established in conjunction with changes to existing operations and the establishment of new operations in already disturbed areas. The majority of Boliden’s acreage in northern Scandinavia is adjacent to reindeer grazing land and Boliden prioritises 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’s forests are FSC certified in order to promote responsible forestry, and 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, wetlands 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 prioritises deciduous tree species. On the productive forested land, Boliden manages the forestry from a landscape ecological perspective.

In prevoius 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 the 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 the 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.

  

EN11 Operational sites in areas of high biodiversity values

Boliden’s impacts on biodiversity are above all related to land use in current or abandoned operations. As of December 31, 2016, Boliden owned or controlled 22,600 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 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, and for time-limited operations, such as mines, Boliden always ensures that the areas can be reclaimed after the mine closing. Strategies are constantly being developed for the definition of proper compensation measures for application when utilising 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.

Details of the sites that are located in or adjacent to national or regional protected areas, including Natura 2000 habitats defined by EU Member States, can be found in the table.

Sites

Operation

Country

Size, ha

Protected areas

Aitik

Mine

Sweden

7,056

Yes 1) 2) 3)

Bergsöe

Smelter

Sweden

13

No

Boliden Area

Mine

Sweden

5,205

Yes 2)

Garpenberg

Mine

Sweden

1,312

No

Harjavalta

Smelter

Finland

451

No

Kevitsa

Mine

Finland

1,420

Yes 1) 2)

Kokkola

Smelter

Finland

340

No

Kylylahti

Mine

Finland

654

Yes 1) 2)

Odda

Smelter

Norway

40

No

Rönnskär

Smelter

Sweden

153

No

Tara

Mine

Ireland

820

Yes 2)

Old mining areas and forests

Sweden

5,115

Yes 1) 2) 3)

1) in the area

2) adjacent to

3) containing portions of area

EN13 Habitats protected and restored

Once reclamation work is completed, the measures must be inspected by the environmental authorities who will either approve them or propose additional measures. Where appropriate, reclamation is done in partnership with affected land owners or Sami villages. 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.

There are various different types of protected area 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 20 prioritised reclamation objects has been drawn up and 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

Stekenjokk

Dam safety measures

2014

2017

Laver

Dam safety measures and reclamation work

12

2014

2016

Gillervattnet

Reclamation work

300

2014

2017

Näsliden

Reclamation work

5

2015

2017

Forests

Own deposition forest conservation

463

2016

2016


During the year, reclamation work has been ongoing i.e. in Laver and Gillervattnet. In Laver an old dam has been torn out and treatment of the exposed tailings has been ongoing since 2014. In the upper parts exposed tailings has been covered and sealed and below this area two walls have been raised to create elevated water tables. In the lower area the moraine has been supplemented with an alkali buffer to prevent the leakage of metals. Green areas have been established. The measures are showing good results with decreased metal leakage, as well as the elimination of dam safety hazards connected with the old dam. In Gillervattnet the covering of the old tailings dam is ongoing, and measures are being taken to increase the biodiversity in the area.

MM1 Amount of land disturbed or rehabilitated

Mining companies can often own or hold licences 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 that have reached the end of their productive lifespan are part of Boliden’s operations and responsibility. The reclamation programmes are designed to reduce the impact on surrounding areas of land and the local biological diversity. In 2016, approximately 95 (68) hectares were restored/ reclaimed, while 963 (48) hectares were utilised. A large portion of this increase (941 ha) consists of land that has been added in connection with the incorporation of the Kevitsa site. Boliden has made ongoing provisions of funds for future rehabilitation. At the end of 2016, a total of SEK 1,943 million (1,943 m) had been allocated for future reclamation of mining areas and smelters.

Land management (hectares)

2014

2015

2016

Total land holding

21,900

20,900

22,600

Disturbed and not yet rehabilitated
(opening balance)

5,761

5,957

5,937

Disturbed in the reporting period

239

48

963

Rehabilitated in the reporting period

43

68

95

Disturbed and not yet rehabilitated
(closing balance)

5,957

5,937

6,805