Developing a Collaborative Model for Monitoring the Impacts of Mining on Water Body Quality in Sodankylä

A model for monitoring the effects of mining activities on water bodies is being developed in Sodankylä in collaboration with a wide variety of stakeholders.

The Nessling Foundation has granted funding to Akordi for the year 2023 to implement a project aimed at disseminating research findings. The project involves constructing a model for monitoring the water effects of mining activities in the Sodankylä region.

Research has identified two key issues in the current water monitoring related to mining activities: the comprehensibility of monitoring data and the perceived reliability of information. These themes were investigated in the CORE and PKK projects conducted between 2017 and 2022. The projects explored opportunities for local collaboration between mining activities in Sodankylä municipality and stakeholders (Kotilainen et al., 2021). Interviews revealed that stakeholders may struggle to interpret measurement results, understand their scale, and comprehend potential impacts. Additionally, measurements commissioned by companies and consultants are often viewed as biased, raising suspicions regardless of the technical execution.

As part of the research, a solution to these challenges was identified in the form of a collective water monitoring approach for mining activities. The idea is to involve the local community in various stages of the monitoring process, improving the reliability of water monitoring according to stakeholders critical of mining activities. They believe the presence of an accepted and neutral third party would enhance the credibility of water monitoring.

The project aims to collaboratively implement a process with Sodankylä mining companies and local stakeholders, piloting and integrating widely supported water impact monitoring into local practices. Simultaneously, it supports the development of a broader local collaboration model, serving as an example for the entire mining sector in Finland and the Nordic countries.

Akordi serves as an external neutral party in the project, jointly planning the water impact monitoring process for Sodankylä mines and guiding the working of the collaborative group.

In a challenging operational environment, a process led by a neutral party helps build trust, generate more acceptable solutions, and provides tools and expertise to reconcile diverse perspectives and form a shared knowledge base.

The Akordi team working on the project includes special expert Juha-Pekka Turunen (MSc) and junior expert Anni Kettunen (MSc). Juha Kotilainen (MA) acts as a researcher in the project. Kotilainen has investigated the development of the Sodankylä mining collaboration model in the CORE project funded by the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland. The results and publications of Kotilainen’s research serve as the basis for disseminating research findings in the project. Kotilainen is responsible for disseminating research findings and reporting on the developed monitoring model. Lasse Peltonen (PhD) serves as a professor of environmental conflict management at the University of Eastern Finland and is the scientific director of the project.

For more information, visit the project page.