Finnish sites: Akanvaara in Savukoski and Terrafame in Sotkamo
At the University of Eastern Finland, Mononen leads the SERM research group, which focuses on social-scientific mining research. In the SEMACRET project, her research group examines citizens' awareness of critical materials and their attitudes towards mining activities in Finland, Portugal, Poland and the Czech Republic. In Finland, the study sites are Akanvaara in Savukoski and Terrafame in Sotkamo.
Terrafame is an interesting site, as it contains the largest cobalt resources in the European Union.
Researchers have studied the attitudes of local residents towards mining activities in Sotkamo for a long time. Despite the previous problems in Talvivaara mine in Sotkamo, Mononen says that locals in Sotkamo have a surprisingly positive attitude towards mining activities. A comparison study carried out in 2016 found that 71.7% of the respondents in Sotkamo accepted mining activities. The corresponding figure for the whole country was 73.7%.
“Terrafame was included in the SEMACRET study in order to obtain comparative data on whether there has been a change in the acceptance of mining activities. In addition, Terrafame’s battery minerals and chemicals production are closely linked to the green transition.”
Hopes to increase citizens' awareness of the green transition and critical metals
The SEMACRET study examines where citizens get information about the green transition and where they would like to get it – from researchers, the media, neighbours, environmental organisations, authorities or mining operators.
A national online survey will be conducted in the four case countries to examine citizens’ knowledge base, awareness, attitudes and acceptance of the green transition and mining activities. Workshops will also be organised in the study locations at the start and end of the project, and local stakeholders will be interviewed as well.
The study also follows discussion on the subject in social media. This is theme will be explored by Kyle Bahr, one of the leading international scholars addressing the social licence to operate in the context of mining activities.
“Using a variety of methods, we generate data on the main challenges associated with the green transition and acceptance of mining activities. The results reflect stakeholders' concerns and knowledge, attitudes and acceptance.”
The other work packages of the SEMACRET project focus on charting soil metal concentrations using sustainable ore exploration methods.
“Our role is to produce material to raise citizens' awareness. We will also make policy recommendations and visualise the results of the study. In addition, we’ll make a concise information package for citizens on critical materials and the green transition.”
The work package carried out at the University of Eastern Finland involves seven researchers.
For further information, please contact:
Senior Researcher Tuija Mononen, tel. +358 50 372 8627, tuija.mononen(at)uef.fi, UEF Connect