The Rompas-Rajapalot project is an advanced exploration project. Finland has rigorous regulatory processes with strict environmental standards and Mawson is committed at this early project stage to work with the regional and national authorities and broader stakeholder groups to develop the project in a responsible way. Mawson has completed ten years of flora, fauna and water base line studies, annual monitoring and Natura 2000 impact assessments (including all environmental values) at Rompas-Rajapalot. The Company has also created nesting sites for some of the rare bird species living in the area. Satellite and camera monitoring is carried out to obtain information on nesting. The Company looks forward to continuing to work closely with both the mining and environmental authorities and other stakeholders over the coming years to ensure its work is conducted according to sustainable and global best practice methods.
In November 2014, Mawson announced the appointment of environmental specialist, Noora Ahola, to the position of Environmental Leader Finland. Noora is a Forestry Engineer with a Masters Degree in Landscape Management. She has developed strong experience within the Finnish environmental administration, applying environmental legislation towards nature protection. Her most recent role was with The Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Lapland (ELY-Centre) in the Nature Protection Unit as a project manager for a program based on developing biodiversity and ecological connections between Natura 2000 sites.
As Environmental Leader, Noora sets Environmental Policy with senior management and is responsible for environmental monitoring and management plans. She is responsible for identifying and managing key environmental risks associated with Mawson's projects and for ensuring environmental factors are effectively addressed and managed. Working closely with local communities and government, Noora manages consultants and ensures that environmental criteria are integrated into the design of exploration projects. Her role is as a key member of the exploration team and is responsible for ensuring all environmental requirements are delivered on time and within scope.
Mawson carries out its exploration activities in large areas, including areas with a conservation status. Natural regeneration capacity in the northern regions of Finland is slower than in the southern regions due to the cold climate and short growing season. All activities must therefore be carefully and thoughtfully planned to maintain and achieve sustainability.
The Company is committed to carry out all research measures implemented with special care, according to Finnish national legislation, guidelines and recommendations provided by the environmental administration authorities. In addition, international legislation, and in particular the Habitats and Birds Directives, guides the Company's operations. As a part of the Company's development, it also invests in new exploration methods and techniques with less significant impacts. The Company's aim is to carry out all its activities in an ecologically, socially and economically sustainable manner. The Company also requires its subcontractors commit to the corresponding accountability in all their activities.
EIA AND LAND USE PLANNING PROCESSES
In February 2021, Mawson announced that two key planning processes, the Environmental Impact Assessment (“EIA”) and land use planning have been initiated for the Rajapalot gold-cobalt project in Finland.
The purpose of the EIA procedure is to generate information on the environmental impacts of a project, facilitate the consideration of environmental issues in planning and decision-making processes, and give the public and other stakeholders opportunities to participate in and affect these processes and planning. The initiation of EIA and land use planning:
- Is demonstrative of the long term, strong local stakeholder support for one of Finland’s strategic gold-cobalt projects; and
- Further de-risks the project, as resource-expansion drilling is ongoing.
On 18 December 2020, Mawson requested the Lapland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (“ELY”) to arrange a preliminary consultation in accordance with the EIA Procedures Act, which defines projects whose environmental impact must always be assessed. This triggered the commencement of the preparation stage of the EIA for the Rajapalot gold-cobalt project. In Finland, the potential impacts of a project are assessed at the report stage of the EIA process which follows the EIA preparation stage.
Mawson considers stakeholder engagement and collaboration to be a critical part of the potential development of the Rajapalot project, and social aspects will be a key part of the EIA preparation process. The EIA is a project planning tool, and its results must be taken into account when granting permits for projects.
In combination with the EIA, the two municipal areas where the Rajapalot gold-cobalt project is located, the City of Rovaniemi and Municipality of Ylitornio, at the request of Mawson, formally decided to start the sub-area Local Master land use planning processes. Both municipalities made decisions to propose to the Regional Council of Lapland (“Lapin Liitto”) to start the phased provincial land use plan for the Rajapalot gold-cobalt project.
The regional land-use plans set out the principles of land use and the community structure. The phased provincial land use plan is a long-term plan and a guideline for the municipalities when drawing up and amending local master plans and local detailed plans.
Mawson will be responsible for the costs of the EIA and land use planning, as well as the studies to be prepared for them and any measures that require compensation.