• Sweden's news in English
 

'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
Swedish WW2 soldier buried 70 yrs after death
Vetlanda church. Photo: Karin Thuresson

Swedish WW2 soldier buried 70 yrs after death

A Swedish soldier has been buried 70 years after he died fighting with Finland against Soviet troops during World War Two. Remarkably, his sister was still alive to attend the service. READ  

World's first limousine snowplough for hire
Håkan Andersson's limousine snowplough. Photo: Haga Limo

World's first limousine snowplough for hire

A businessman in central Sweden is advertising what he claims is the world’s first Hummer limousine snowplough for hire on Blocket, Sweden’s version of eBay. READ  

Breastmilk drug could fight resistant bacteria

Breastmilk drug could fight resistant bacteria

Swedish researchers may have found a solution to the growing resistance to antibiotics in the most unlikely of places — breastmilk. READ  

Video
Swedish baby wins TV fame in US
A screenshot of Alma and Maja before the collision from America's Funniest Home Videos

Swedish baby wins TV fame in US

A Swedish baby and her King Charles Spaniel scored more than three million views on America’s Funniest Home Videos in just one day, after the baby's father sent a video of the then six-month-old being bowled over by the puppy. READ  

Royal couple blames tax woes on identity theft
Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill in December 2014. Photo: TT

Royal couple blames tax woes on identity theft

Chris O'Neill, the British-American banker married to Sweden’s Princess Madeleine, has admitted to having had problems over unpaid US taxes, explaining that he had been the victim of identity theft. READ  

Up to four subs feared in Stockholm waters
An enlarged look at the mystery sighting of a suspected submarine in the Stockholm archipelago in October. Photo: TT

Up to four subs feared in Stockholm waters

Sweden’s armed forces now estimate that as many as four submarines were operating in the Stockholm Archipelago in mid-October, the country’s Dagens Industri (DI) newspaper reported on Saturday. READ  

Sweden mulls ticket controls for jihadis
The war in Syria and Iraq has attracted many young Swedish Muslims. Photo: STRINGER/Scanpix

Sweden mulls ticket controls for jihadis

Sweden could introduce controls over airline ticket sales and border crossings as part of a new anti-terror strategy aimed at preventing citizens going abroad to fight for extremist groups. READ  

'Frozen' hanging woman died 'climbing fence'
The fence in Norrköping where the woman was found hanging. Photo: TT

'Frozen' hanging woman died 'climbing fence'

A woman found hanging dead on a fence in Norrköping, about one hour south of Stockholm, was pierced by razor-sharp spikes, but probably ended up there 'by accident', police have concluded. READ  

Sweden's first LGBT pool makes a loud splash
Sweden's first LGBT swimming pool. Photo: Sundbyberg Stad

Sweden's first LGBT pool makes a loud splash

The first swimming pool in Sweden designed for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is making waves in the Swedish media, ahead of its official opening next week. READ  

Princess Madeleine 'not involved in any debt'
Princess Madeleine at the Nobel Prize ceremony in December 2014. Photo: TT

Princess Madeleine 'not involved in any debt'

Sweden's royal family has strongly denied claims that Princess Madeleine's husband Chris O'Neill has debts in the US, saying the US tax authorities 'made a mistake'. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
Meet the 'beggars' buttoning up immigration critics
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden this week
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Madeleine through the years
Features
Learn Sweden's bizarre dating lingo
People-watching: January 21st - 22nd
Gallery
People-watching: January 21st - 22nd
Blog updates

23 January

Editor’s blog, January 23rd (The Local Sweden) »

"Happy Friday from The Local’s team in Stockholm. We can’t wait for the weekend, when we’re planning..." READ »

 

14 January

Adjectives and nouns (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hi there, The other day I got a question about combining adjectives and nouns: When you have a..." READ »

 
 
 
Lifestyle
'Life as a Swedish candy-maker is sweet'
Society
Why Sweden's viral 'genital' video is getting an English remake
Gallery
IN PICTURES: January snow snaps
National
Why does Sweden's Luleå have a giant ice beaver?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Who are Sweden's richest one percent?
Business & Money
How a classic Swedish snack got a revamp for 'busy' Stockholmers
Lifestyle
The Local's top Swedish acts for 2015
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Årets Bild photography prize winners
Business & Money
'I met my Swedish man in Tokyo's first Ikea store'
Gallery
Property of the week: A cozy apartment in Bromma, Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching: January 17th - 18th
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish gravad lax
Lifestyle
Four hot Swedish home design trends
National
How The Local's video on a strange Swedish sound went viral
Gallery
People-watching: January 14th
National
The Local's guide to Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Politics
Paris attacks: Knock-on effects in Sweden and across Europe
National
Swedish Muslims react to new Charlie Hebdo magazine
National
The Local talks to Sweden's Home Affairs Minister about Paris attacks
Business & Money
Will Spotify launch on stock market after users rocket?
Accelerated
Texans and Swedes to play ice instruments
Gallery
Property of the week: An 18th century mansion in Stockholm
Business & Money
'Snowboarding drew me to work in chilly Sweden'
National
Are Sweden's royals moving to London?
National
How Sweden's Charlie Hebdo rally broke a winter protest record
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Madeleine through the years
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Stockholm's 'no pants' subway day 2015
Gallery
People-watching: January 10th - 11th
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Stockholm holds Charlie Hebdo rally
National
Have you seen Sweden's viral children's 'genital' song?
National
Mother of 'Superman' victim warns of ecstasy drug trend in Sweden
National
Are wolves on the loose in the Swedish capital?
Gallery
People-watching: January 7th
National
Stockholmers discuss why they joined global Paris shooting vigils
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's reaction to Paris magazine shootings
National
The best Swedish songs of the month
National
Ten Swedes who made a lasting impact on the United States
National
The Local meets northern Sweden's frozen Roma beggars
Sponsored Article
Everything you need to know about moving to Stockholm
Sponsored Article
How to jump-start your career in southern Sweden
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

1,140
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
Counselling and Psychotherapy in English
Sometimes living in another culture can cause stress, confusion and feelings of sadness and loneliness. Talking to a professional psychotherapist/counsellor might help you. I am a UKCP Reg. psychotherapist. My practice is in Södermalm, Stockholm.
Contact me to discuss your options