Loss of biodiversity goes hand in hand with climate change. This can have serious consequences. LKAB has been working to address this issue for many years. Now, Svemin has presented an industry-wide roadmap for biodiversity.
Besides the fact that we many of us feel morally obliged to prevent the extinction of fauna and flora, we humans are in every sense dependent on biodiversity. LKAB benefits from so-called ecosystem services, for example, for water purification, air treatment and noise mitigation, with the aid of vegetation.
"In so many ways, biodiversity is a prerequisite for our operations and, if we wish to continue mining, we have to work actively to protect it," says Linda Bjurholt, environmental manager.
Svemin's roadmap for biodiversity, Mining with Nature, establishes targets and working procedures for the entire mining industry.
"This is a really important step towards the protection of biodiversity. At the same time, we at LKAB are working to set our own targets for our operations," says Linda Bjurholt.
For several years LKAB has been working according to a mitigation hierarchy. The mitigation hierarchy has its starting point in avoidance of impact and subsequently considers minimization, remediation and, finally, compensation for the impact. A good example of avoidance and minimization of impact can be seen in our planning of waste rock dumps. A survey is made of the relevant areas and the various values are weighed against each other to arrive at the best possible alternative.
"Dumping sites are built up successively, so as to avoid the need to use more land, and thereby minimize negative impact on the landscape," explains Annika Zachrisson, project manager.
Among other remediation measures, at the old tailings pond in Vitåfors, various soil types have been used and microbiotopes have been created with rock heaps, dead wood and shrubbery to restore the area and improve ecological diversity. Ultimately, LKAB's ambition is that our operations should not result in any net loss of natural values. Therefore, we compensate for impact on land and water at other sites, for example, in Mertainen, which is one of Sweden's largest offset areas. As our operations change, we must continue to address this issue; therefore, a vision of how the industrial site in Kiruna will look after closure has also been presented. This vision can also be applied to increase biodiversity within the active industrial site during the period of operation.
Mining has an unavoidable impact on biodiversity. How this impact can be minimized is therefore an extremely important question.