The Norwegian Government has published its mineral strategy and a fast-track mining initiative for critical metals and minerals


Hands holding sand. Blurry background.

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Jan Christian Vestre, presented the Government's mineral strategy regarding land-based mineral activities on Wednesday, June 21, 2023. The Government has set a goal of developing Norway's mineral industry as the most sustainable in the world. The strategy primarily focuses on critical and strategic metals and minerals, with a key emphasis on expediting Norwegian mining and mineral projects. To achieve this, the Government aims to initiate a "fast track system". Additionally, recognizing the necessity for improved coordination among different government agencies, the Government proposes a "one stop shop system" with the Directorate og Mining (DMF) as the primary responsible and coordinating authority for critical mineral projects.

The mineral strategy outlines the Government's intended actions to address the challenges of accessing raw materials in Norway and to facilitate increased profitability and sustainability in land-based extraction of critical metals and minerals. There is a particular focus on expediting mineral projects, especially those involving strategic and critical metals and minerals. Furthermore, an emphasis is placed on prioritizing projects with the least environmental impact.

Regarding the selection of critical and strategic raw materials important to Norway, the Government initially relies on the EU's list of critical and strategic minerals, but acknowledges the possibility of national variations.

The Government has identified five key areas of focus, which include:

  1. Accelerating the realization of Norwegian mineral projects.
  2. Ensuring the Norwegian mineral industry contributes to the circular economy.
  3. Enhancing the sustainability of the Norwegian mineral industry.
  4. Ensuring Norwegian mineral projects have good access to private capital.
  5. Establishing Norway as a reliable supplier of raw materials for green supply chains.

For each of the focus areas, the Government has prepared several points that it aims to address. Theses include, among others:

  • Reducing processing time and facilitating faster permitting processes for mining and mineral projects through improved coordination and parallel processing of public permits/licenses.
  • Assessing the need for regulatory changes in relevant regulations pertaining to the extraction of critical raw materials and strategic projects for recovery within the scope of the Minerals Act.
  • Designating the DMF as the "national competent authority" for coordinating applications and case processing for critical and strategic metal and mineral projects (one-stop shop) within the scope of the Minerals Act.
  • Prioritizing applications for strategic and critical metal and mineral projects based on their environmental impact, including minimizing natural damage, as well projects involving reuse of surplus masses or backfilling for depositing.
  • Strengthening the Norway Geological Survey (NGU) to prioritize mapping areas believed to have critical minerals and developing tools for better geological information.
  • Developing a "mineral compass" in collaboration with stakeholders to improve information flow.
  • Increasing focus on the Fens field, a geological province located in the southeastern part of Norway. It is believed to house one of Europe's largest deposits of rare earth metals, including neodymium, europium, gadolinium, and yttrium, among others.
  • Promptly assessing the relevance of the proposal for the EU's Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) to the EEA and, if applicable, subsequently implementing it into Norwegian law.
  • Facilitate effective municipal land management related to the establishment and closure of mineral activities. Whenever possible, avoid planning mineral activities that conflict with climate and environmental interests of national or significant regional importance.
  • The Government aims for the Norwegian mineral industry to contribute to a more circular economy by increasing resource utilization and minimizing the need for deposits.
  • Support companies in the mineral industry to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals in their operations.
  • The Government focuses on ensuring environmental and conservation sustainability in mineral activities, as well as social sustainability and the interest of the Sami community.
  • A focus on profitable and sustainable mineral projects is desired, but currently no funding initiative is being added. However, the Government will consider the possibility of establishing a separate state mineral company or fund to ensure the profitable and sustainable development of critical commodity resources.
  • Additionally, the Government will facilitate a socio-economically profitable mineral industry. They will assess potential economic and business policy measures to stimulate increased extraction of critical raw materials, enhance value creation in the mineral industry, promote more sustainable mineral activities, and explore ways communities can benefit more from mining.
  • The mineral strategy also aims to strengthen long-term cooperation with the EU, the Nordic countries, and work towards Norwegian participation in the “Minerals Security Partnership”.
  • As part of their ambition, the Government aims to enhance the grid capacity to facilitate access to electric power for new mineral projects.

At Schjødt, we offer comprehensive legal services to diverse stakeholders in the mineral industry, covering a broad spectrum of areas. Our expertise spans across all regulatory aspects associated with the different phases of mineral operations, financing and acquisitions. Our dedicated team of legal professionals has vast experience in handling assignments tailored to the specific needs of this industry. With offices in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and the United Kingdom, we invite you to reach out to our core team for expert assistance in navigating the complex legal landscape of the Scandinavian mineral sector.

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