Why legislation on minerals?
Exploitation of minerals is in the national interest.
For hundreds of years, Sweden has had minerals legislation aimed at guaranteeing the supply of metals and minerals which an increasingly developed society needs. This legislation has dealt with the exploration and exploitation of important rocks and minerals which are rare and require such special expertise and so much capital that, apart from odd exceptions, landowners have been considered unlikely to have the capacity to undertake the necessary operations.
Sweden's national interest in minerals exploitation derives from the fact that it provides raw materials for the production of a very large proportion of everything an industrial society needs. It provides industry with important metals and minerals.
The minerals sector is crucial to employment in certain regions of Sweden, and is also vital to the development of the mining equipment industry, regardless of where in the country it is situated. Minerals exploitation within Swedish borders forms a basis for important exports, and reduces the country's vulnerability in the event of international trade crises.
It can also be said to be in the national interest that taxes and duties are paid by companies, both under rules common to all sectors of industry and under the provisions of the Minerals Act and Minerals Ordinance.
Exploration of the bedrock for the purposes of mineral prospecting entails a survey of the bedrock which provides knowledge that may be beneficial to society or to companies in the future.
Increased internationalisation is a general aim of government industrial policy, which also applies to the minerals exploitation industry.
Relationship to legislation on the environment and ancient monuments
The minerals legislation does not exempt mines from compliance with environmental legislation. The Environmental Code applies in parallel with the Minerals Act, in the same way as it applies in parallel with other specialised legislation.
In parallel with the Minerals Act, the Act concerning Ancient Monuments and Finds (1988:850) also applies. This contains provisions on permits for interventions at the sites of ancient monuments.
Chapter 1 Section 2 of the Environmental Code and the Minerals Act describe how different acts are co-ordinated as regards the granting of various permits.
Basic conditions for mining in Sweden
Sweden has had an active mining industry for hundreds of years. Much of the country's wealth is based on export earnings and on the livelihoods which many people have been able to obtain, since the Middle Ages, from the Falun mine and the iron ore of Bergslagen and, over the last century, from the ore fields of Norrbotten. The tradition of mining is therefore strong.
From an international geological perspective, Sweden's bedrock has good potential for minerals exploitation. All around the world, significant mineral deposits occur in association with Archaean acid volcanic rocks. In Sweden, such rock types are mainly found in an area from Kiruna south towards Arvidsjaur and through the Skellefte field to the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia, as well as in Bergslagen in central Sweden.
Despite such good potential, mineable deposits are hard to come by. The Minerals Act and other minerals legislation have been introduced by the state in order to make rational exploration possible.
Other favourable conditions for mining which Sweden offers include political stability, a developed infrastructure, easily accessible information on the national bedrock, a stable system of regulation, a well-trained workforce, and the skills and experience of companies and state bodies in the area of minerals exploitation.