Rights of indigenous peoples

We work to protect the interests and rights of indigenous peoples in all areas where we operate.

Our approach to the rights of indigenous peoples

In the northern parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland, the Sami, as indigenous peoples, have a traditional land use right over large areas of land – Sapmi. All operations that use land in these areas – from exploration to rehabilitation – are accordingly places where Boliden’s interests overlap with those of the Sami.

Three of our mining areas – the Boliden Area, the Aitik mine, and the Kevitsa mine (60% of Boliden’s mining operations) – are also located in Sapmi. We have ongoing consultations with the affected Sami villages regarding exploration, operations, project development and rehabilitation. Agreements on cooperation, development and compensation are generally in place between Boliden and the Sami villages.

In these areas of overlapping interest, we work to understand and respect the rights, interests and perspectives of indigenous peoples. The ambition is to coexist and have a constructive relationship with the indigenous peoples that is based on mutual respect, meaningful engagement, trust and mutual benefit.

To achieve this, we have developed an Indigenous People Commitment, which states its commitment to engagement, understanding, consultation processes, work to obtain consent and collaboration.

Svemin (the Swedish Association of Mines, Mineral and Metal Producers) has also published a Position Statement on how the entire mining industry should respect reindeer herding. We are a member of Svemin and are also committed to follow the Position Statement.

Incidents of violations involving the rights of indigenous peoples

A successful business must be based on local support and understanding. We have a long history in the areas in which we operate. Our vision is to be a responsible actor and to build trust with local stakeholders to avoid any form of violations. No incidents concerning violations of the rights of indigenous peoples were identified in 2022.

Boliden respects different opinions and acknowledges the right of indigenous peoples to raise their views and opinions, such as in impact assessments. With open dialogue and cooperation with local communities, we are usually able to find solutions that are beneficial to all parties and mitigate negative consequences. Since different interests overlap, Boliden as a responsible actor respects different opinions, while working to avoid and overcome significant disputes.

Examples of development projects together with the Sami:

  1. Consequences for the Sami and reindeer herding from mining projects are difficult to evaluate since there is very limited research in this field. Boliden has therefore initiated the project MINEDEER to find better ways to evaluate reindeer disturbance zones. This project is financed by Boliden and the Swedish Mining Innovation (SIP-SMI) and is conducted together with three different Sami villages at Boliden sites and researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).
  2. Re-establishment of reindeer grazing species like lichens on former mine sites. Pilot tests have been set up in Boliden and Aitik in partnership with SLU.
  3. During 2022, the MINEDUST study into the impact of dust from mining operations on reindeer grazing together with SLU, LKAB and Sveaskog continued.

Resolving disputes related to land use, community rights and indigenous peoples

Grievance mechanisms are in place at all stages from exploration and throughout project development to permitting processes, operations, and the long-term rehabilitation phase. Before any exploration is conducted, a working plan is sent to all stakeholders with information about the date and type of work being planned, and a description of any consequences. Details of the contact at Boliden and at the supervising authority are provided in the plan to facilitate engagement and changes to the planned work. During project development and permitting, hearings are held with stakeholders to provide feedback directly to Boliden or the authorities. ­Annual meetings are also usually held with all stakeholders during operations, as well as during the long-term rehabilitation planning process. The extent of the hearings and meetings is planned based on need and may consist of anything from single meetings to extensive citizen dialogues. Actions to address residual adverse impacts are decided using the mitigation hierarchy.

In a unique research project, reindeer are wearing GPS collars that register their movement. The goal is to investigate how mining operations affect reindeer and reindeer husbandry’s use of grazing land.