• Sweden's news in English
 
almadalen_header

'Sweden's mineral wealth is sold too cheaply'

Published: 12 Jan 2014 09:13 GMT+01:00

While concession fees are kept deliberately low in order to attract miners, critics say all nine million Swedes could and should benefit the same way that their Norwegian neighbours all profit from their national oil wealth.

"This is something we own together," said Jesper Roine, associate professor at the Stockholm School of Economics. Besides, he added, minerals have an intrinsic value even before they are dug out of the earth, and they should be priced accordingly, the way all other raw materials are priced.

As it is now, the Swedish state earned only a little over €30,000 ($41,000) in concession fees in 2012, the last year for which figures were available.

Why this tiny number? Because fees are a mere 0.2 percent of total output value, of which three quarters go to the landowner and only one quarter ends up in the state treasury.

By comparison, Canadian provinces typically charge 10 to 15 percent, and Australia implemented a 30 percent mining tax in 2012.

Some economists and environmentalists suggest increased mining fees in order to safeguard the natural environment of Sweden's mineral-rich north, while also saving up for a huge nest egg to help future generations.

Behind the debate is a fact that may surprise: Sweden is known for its slick design and ingenuous high-tech, but it also produces more iron than any other European nation and boasts the world's two largest underground ore mines.

Its mineral resources are attracting the attention of business heavyweights from across the globe.

Avalon Minerals and Dragon Mining, both Australian companies, have prospecting and concession licences in Sweden. Canadian company Eurasian Minerals has exploration projects in Sweden, one of them in cooperation with Chile's Antofagasta.
 

The low concession fees do not mean that Sweden is getting no revenue from mining.

The Swedish government earns 12 billion kronor (€1.3 billion, $1.8 billion) from mining operations via dividends from state-owned mining company LKAB and via regular taxes.

But to observers, such as Roine, this is not enough.

He is the co-author of a recent report on Swedish earnings from mineral extraction that proposes new tariffs to compensate for the gradual depletion of resources and a state owned fund similar to Norway's oil fund, which invests the billions the country earns to last for future generations once the resources are gone.

"It's not the same as saying that the companies... shouldn't be compensated for their costs and the risks they are shouldering. They should absolutely be paid for that," he said.

"But nevertheless it's the case that the business doesn't materialise out of thin air. Some of the value of the mineral wealth already exists from the outset, and this makes it a very special industry compared with others."

Sweden has been ranked in the top ten of attractive mining nations three years in a row by the independent research organisation Fraser Institute, this year only topped by neighbouring Finland. Low fees, low corruption, good infrastructure and a stable society are some of the attractive factors.

But analysts and the government say the fees must be low to keep miners coming and investing in Sweden, thus playing an important role in creating jobs and economic development.

"The government is currently not prepared to increase the mineral fees," said state secretary Haakan Ekengren, at the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications.

He gets backing from accounting company PwC's mining and metal analyst Carl-Wilhelm Levert, who supported the low fees.

"The Swedish mining industry is an important engine for Swedish economy," he said. "Swedish fees compete on a global market and we already have high extracting fees due to low ore levels and high safety- and environmental requirements."

"It is also important for the employment in rural areas and an increased mineral fee doesn't create better conditions - rather, it is important that we continue to support exploration because it is not until they become operative mines that we see large positive effects like new jobs and investments."

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Almedalen 2015 with the EU Commission in Sweden
'Today's refugees could be tomorrow's Zlatan'
Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

'Today's refugees could be tomorrow's Zlatan'

Sweden is grappling with how to handle a large influx of asylum seekers while some other EU nations brush off responsibility – but it's important to focus on the benefits of immigration as well, high-profile panelists agreed at an Almedalen event. READ  

Almedalen 2015
LIVE: Sweden's political power forum - Day Seven
Left Party leader Jonas Sjöstedt. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

LIVE: Sweden's political power forum - Day Seven

It's the seventh day of Almedalen, the most important week in Swedish politics, and the Left Party is running the show. The Local is live blogging the key moments. READ  

Almedalen 2015
Opposition head pledges lower taxes on first jobs
Sweden's Moderate party leader Anna Kinberg Batra at Almedalen. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

Opposition head pledges lower taxes on first jobs

Moderate Party leader Anna Kinberg Batra spoke about jobs in her first speech at Almedalen since becoming head of Sweden's biggest opposition party. READ  

Almedalen 2015
BLOG: Sweden's political power forum - Day Six
New Moderate Party leader Anna Kinberg Batra speaking at Almedalen. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

BLOG: Sweden's political power forum - Day Six

Anna Kinberg Batra - the new leader of Sweden's biggest opposition party, the Moderates - focused on job creation in her first speech at Almedalen, Sweden's huge week-long politics forum. READ  

Jump in solo children seeking Swedish asylum
A playground at Märsta immigration centre in Sweden. Maja Suslin/TT

Jump in solo children seeking Swedish asylum

A record 1447 unaccompanied children sought asylum in Sweden last month, figures from the Swedish Migration Board have revealed. READ  

Almedalen 2015
Cashless society faces backlash from losers
What are the downsides of a cashless society? Photo: Per Larsson/TT

Cashless society faces backlash from losers

Sweden is possibly the nearest thing the world has to a cashless society, but some Swedes are worried about the effects on rural areas, pensioners - and personal integrity. READ  

Almedalen 2015
Sweden's green leader in second Auschwitz gaffe
Åsa Romson at Sweden's Almedalen Week. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

Sweden's green leader in second Auschwitz gaffe

UPDATED: Sweden's Deputy Prime Minister and Green Party leader Åsa Romson has stirred up a storm after she placed Auschwitz in southern Germany instead of Poland, her second gaffe about the holocaust. READ  

Oasis star calls Zlatan 'idiot' but 'likes Sweden'
Noel Gallagher performing earlier this year (L) and Sweden’s star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic (R): Photos: TT

Oasis star calls Zlatan 'idiot' but 'likes Sweden'

One of the UK’s most iconic Britpop era stars, Noel Gallagher, has caused a stir in Sweden after calling its star footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic a ‘moron’ and slamming a Nordic journalist. READ  

Julian Assange
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Julian Assange following a court hearing in 2010. Photo: TT

Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is fighting extradition to Sweden where he is facing sex assault allegations. The Local looks at the key points in his case so far. READ  

The Local Music
The Local's top Swedish songs of the month
Tove Lo - The Local's number one singer for July. Photo: Promo

The Local's top Swedish songs of the month

The Local's music guru, Paul Connolly, has been sweating over Sweden's hottest new music so you don't have to. Here's a selection of July's best tracks. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Learning Swedish: different rules for expats and refugees?
Sport
IN PICTURES: Thousands welcome home Sweden’s heroes
Politics
Almedalen: The Local's guide to Sweden's power players week
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Swedes soak up sun on hottest day of year
Sport
Sweden celebrates greatest sporting victory in decades
Blog updates

2 July

Som eller att (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! It happens quite often, that my students are confused over when to use “som” and when..." READ »

 

26 June

Editor’s blog, June 26th (The Local Sweden) »

"Greetings from Stockholm, We’re about to transport our newsroom to the idyllic Swedish island of Gotland for..." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
People-watching: July 1st
Sponsored Article
VIP Mingle at Almedalen's hottest event
National
Swede battles slug invasion
Sponsored Article
What can we learn from Swedish women's sex habits?
National
VIDEO: Is this herring tasting clip an 'insult to Sweden'?
Gallery
Property of the week: Visby, Gotland
National
Sweden set for sunniest week of year
Gallery
People-watching: June 26th-28th
Features
The Local's essential guide to who's who in Swedish politics
National
More Swedish military exercises as Russia aggression fears grow
National
What's on in Sweden this week
Travel
Why Swedish camp sites are set for a bumper summer
National
Swedish summer's really on its way (at least according to forecasters)
Gallery
People-watching: June 24th
National
Why are southern Swedes angry about becoming 'Danish' again?
Society
Lifestyle: When to catch your favourite features on The Local
National
Is Sweden one of the world's most peaceful nations?
Sponsored Article
Harstena: Travelling to Sweden's secret islands
National
One in ten Swedish cats homeless
Sponsored Article
'I constantly evolve my Swedishness'
Gallery
Property of the week: Värmdö, Stockholm
Society
Would you eat this Swedish pizza?
National
Swedish royals' dream honeymoon
National
Swedish hospital opens first centre for male rape victims
Gallery
People-watching: June 20th-21st
Photo: TT
Lifestyle
Midsummer: The Local's guide to Sweden's craziest festival
Sponsored Article
Murder, myth and magic: Travelling to the birthplace of Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: June 17th
Sponsored Article
Gallery: Life in Sweden's secret archipelago
Society
Seven alternative names for Sweden's Prince Nicolas Paul Gustaf
National
FBI returns stolen Swedish books
National
Want to smell like Zlatan?
National
Royal joy over birth of new prince
Gallery
Property of the week: Brantevik, Simrishamn
National
How racy graffiti inspired a teacher's high school sex class
Gallery
People-watching: June 12th-14th
National
As it happened: Prince Carl Philip marries Sofia Hellqvist
Technology
Is Stockholm the world's creative capital?
National
Timeline: Julian Assange case
Sponsored Article
KTH President: ‘Sweden’s success is because of its size’
Gallery
IN PICTURES: New royal couple Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Features
Ten Swedish festivals to discover
Features
Ten reasons Stockholm is definitely way cooler than Copenhagen
National
VIDEO: Watch Swedish man rescue baby elk from cold creek
National
VIDEO: Have you seen this jet ski blunder at a Malmö hotel opening?
Sponsored Article
Why expat women are choosing Swedish natural birth control
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: Nine questions every expat should ask
Sponsored Article
The millionaire teacher who leads by tough love
Sponsored Article
How to change the world: Malmö to Mogadishu
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

3,236
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se