The extension for the Pitkäjärvi ML2016:0040 exploration permit, including the Aitolampi flake graphite deposit, has been granted by the Supreme Administrative Court on 3.11.2022. The permit is valid for three years. Below are the stages and decision of the case.
Stages of the case
1. Grafintec Oy has applied for an extension of the exploration permit “Pitkäjärvi” granted on 7 December 2016 under the Mining Act, permit number ML2016:0040, and for an order to enforce the decision despite an appeal. The permit area is located in the municipality of Heinävesi.
2. The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency Tukes, in its decision of 27 April 2021, under the permit number ML2016:0040, has extended the validity of the said mineral exploration permit and granted Grafintec Oy permission to take the measures described in permit provision 1 to 3 of the decision, despite the appeal.
3. By the decision under appeal, the Eastern Finland Administrative Court dismissed as inadmissible the appellants’ claims under the Environmental Protection Act and the Water Act and dismissed their appeal and application for reimbursement of costs.
4. The appellants have applied for leave to appeal against the decision of the Administrative Court.
Decision of the Supreme Administrative Court 3.11.2022
The application for leave to appeal is dismissed. The Supreme Administrative Court therefore does not rule on the appeal.
Pursuant to Article 111 §1 of the Administrative Procedure Act, leave to appeal must be granted if:
1) it is important for the application of the law in other similar cases or for the sake of consistency of case-law to refer the matter to the Supreme Administrative Court;
2) there are special grounds for referring the matter to the Supreme Administrative Court on account of a manifest error in the case; or
3) there are other serious grounds for granting leave to appeal.
On the basis of the submissions of the appellants and other evidence in the file, there are no grounds for granting leave to appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court.
The exploration permit does not give the right to exploit the deposit. The exploration permit allows geophysical and geochemical exploration, mechanical sampling, such as drilling, and exploratory excavations. In addition, small-scale test mining, limited to 3,000 tonnes of rock including topsoil, is permitted as an exploration method. Test mining is subject to a permit under Article 119 of the Environmental Protection Act (527/2014). Test mining of hard rock also requires a specific security collateral to be provided. No decision has yet been taken to carry out test mining.
A detailed exploration work plan with location information will be submitted to the landowners and interested parties in good time before the start of the work. In cooperation with the landowners, efforts will be made to plan the work in such a way that the exploration does not cause any disruption to land use in the area. However, in the event of damage to trees, other woodland or the landscape, the company will compensate the landowners in full for any direct damage.
At present, background measurements of the water body, such as monitoring groundwater levels and determining background concentrations and flows in surface water, are ongoing in the permit area. Grafintec is also continuing to optimise the Aitolampi graphite beneficiation process, maximising concentrate yield and minimising mine waste. In addition, Grafintec is actively investigating the suitability of graphite as an anode material for electric batteries.