December 08, 2017

Going beyond regulations

With houses less than a kilometer from the pit, Yara's operations depend on the goodwill of the neighbors in Siilinjärvi, Finland.

Paula and Janne Kokkonen's farm, which borders Yara's mine in Siilinjärvi, Finland, has been in the family since the 1960s. Although living close to the mine has its drawbacks, including occasional dust and noise, Paula says they're satisfied with Yara's open approach.

"They try hard to minimize disturbances and they're always happy to discuss any issues we may have," she says.

With neighbors living so close to the mine, and the village of 22,000 inhabitants just a few kilometers away, Yara’s operations depend on the ongoing support from the community.

"You have to earn this support by doing things right in your surroundings. In worst case, a complaint from the community could lead to our operating permit being appealed, which could take years to be resolved, so we need to keep an open dialogue with stakeholders to address any issues early."

To achieve this, Yara Siilinjärvi regularly meets with different stakeholder groups and uses technology like noise-measurement devices to ensure operations don't become a problem for residents.

Yara Siilinjärvi recently invited local residents to witness and learn about drilling operations.

As well as reducing risk to operations, Teija points out another reason Yara needs to act responsibly in the communities where we operate.

"It just wouldn't be in line with our values to do anything else," she says.

International interest

Teija has taken this thinking beyond Siilinjärvi. As Chairperson of the Finnish Mining Association (FinnMin) for the last two years, she has overseen the development of the Sustainable Mining Standard, which aims to improve environmental and social practices.

The standard gives mines a rating in eight areas such as water treatment, biodiversity and stakeholder management.

With its unique focus on building relationships with all stakeholders, the Finnish standard is recognized amongst the best in the industry.

Teija regularly receives calls from governments and mining companies around the world wanting to know more. And on Friday, 17 November, an official delegation from Mozambique visited Yara's mine.

"We're interested to see the environmental aspects and how locals can benefit from having mines in their communities," said Vice-president of the Committee for Economy, Agriculture and Environment, MP Jaime Bessa Neto.

In light of Yara's MoU with the Mozambican government, the team in Siilinjärvi took the opportunity to inform the guests about Yara's broader impact.