Chapter 3, Section 7, second paragraph of the Swedish Environmental Code states that areas containing deposits of valuable substances or materials that are of national interest shall be protected against measures that may be prejudicial to their extraction. Within such areas, municipalities and central government agencies may not plan for or authorise activities that might prevent or be prejudicial to the exploitation of mineral resources.

Areas of national interest

Areas of particularly valuable mineral substances may be declared national interests by SGU. In the “Mineral deposits of national interest” map viewer you can find all the areas containing deposits of national interest. By clicking on the point symbol “Mineral deposits of national interest, dot”, you will get information about the area and a link to any decisions in PDF format.

The “Mineral deposits of national interest” map viewer (new window)

What is a national interest?

The map shows Kiruna and the surrounding area where national interests for nature (green dots), outdoor life (green lines), reindeer husbandry (red lines), culture (purple hatched) and minerals (black lines) overlap each other.

The map shows Kiruna and the surrounding area where national interests for nature (green dots), outdoor life (green lines), reindeer husbandry (red lines), culture (purple hatched) and minerals (black lines) overlap each other.

Geographical areas that are of national significance for a variety of societal interests can be identified as areas of national interest. These may be significant for different reasons – it is a matter of both conservation and exploitation interests. They are land and water areas that have various needs of protection, e.g. because they are sensitive from an ecological point of view, contain valuable substances/materials or are particularly suitable for industrial plants. Within these identified areas, no measures may be taken that may be prejudicial to the specified values or the intended exploitation of the land.

The purpose of the provisions is to report the interests that are of particular significance and that should therefore be given precedence over others when deciding on issues of land use. The provisions thus provide support for decisions when different interests conflict.

The county administrative boards are the recipients of decisions on national interests. These decisions form a basis that county administrative boards and municipalities must take into account in their long-term planning. National interests must also be included in the municipal comprehensive plan.

National interests are regulated in Chapters 3 and 4 of the Swedish Environmental Code.

How SGU decides on national interests

Under the Ordinance on Land and Water Management, etc. (SFS 1998:896), SGU may, after consultation with Boverket (the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning) and the county administrative board, decide that a certain deposit constitutes an area that is of national interest regarding valuable substances or materials.

Thus far, SGU has decided that 141 deposits of valuable substances or materials are of national interest. Of these, 84 have been demarcated in detail and marked on maps, while the others have been positioned using a centre coordinate.

Detailed demarcation of deposits is important

Detailed demarcation involves specifying the deposit's location by entering the national interest on a map with its coordinates. This makes it easier for county administrative boards and municipalities in the planning process and in weighing considerations when an area is of national interest for several irreconcilable purposes.

SGU performs continuous work to demarcate deposits that are deemed to be of national interest. This involves deposits that have hitherto only been marked with coordinates, but also “new” deposits are assessed and can be classed as a national interest. SGU also works continuously to revoke deposits that may no longer be considered to be of national interest under Chapter 3, Section 7 of the Swedish Environmental Code.   

A detailed demarcation begins with SGU developing geological background material about the deposit. Information on, e.g. production and material properties can also be obtained from the deposit's owner or those operating on the deposit. Following this, the deposit is usually inspected by SGU personnel, and a preliminary demarcation is drawn up.  

Factors that SGU takes into account when setting demarcations are:

  • the deposit's significance to the country's supply capacity
  • how well documented the deposit is
  • the deposit's special material properties
  • if the deposit constitutes a unique natural asset.

The demarcation is made on the basis of a long-term perspective. SGU is currently reviewing the criteria used in assessing whether an area is of national interest.

Consultation with Boverket and the county administrative board

SGU's proposal is referred to the relevant county administrative board and Boverket (the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning). SGU makes a decision on the matter after the referral process and any adjustments to the proposal.