Active means of conservation
In the 2014 surveys of the company's future mining areas, Syväjärvi was discovered to be inhabited by the moor frog (Rana arvalis). The mining areas of Syväjärvi and Rapasaari were also found to be included in the territory of a golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). The aforementioned species are protected by the Finnish Nature Conservation Act.
The moor frog (Rana arvalis) has an extensive distribution across Finland. This rather common amphibian is included in the Habitats Directive of the EU and its Annex IV(a) species in need of strict protection by the member states. It is forbidden to destroy or impair the known breeding and resting areas of the moor frog. In addition, the intentional disturbance of the frogs, especially during their seasons of mating, taking care of their offspring or hibernation as well as intentional disposal or removal of their eggs is forbidden.
All the reptile and amphibian species in Finland (10 species) have extensive distribution across Europe and are relatively common. Finland is the northernmost limit of their area of distribution. For breeding ground and habitat, frogs favour ponds with stagnant water and no fish that might eat the newly hatched tadpoles. The frog, moor frog and newt are less equipped to defend themselves against fish than the poisonous toad which favours slightly larger pools and forest ponds as its breeding ground.
As soon as the moor frog was observed in the nature surveys carried out for the planning of the mines, Keliber started planning procedures for maintaining the favourable protection level of the moor frog while enabling mining operations in the area. As a result of the planning, an active, anticipatory procedural programme was specified and launched immediately.
The objective of the implemented, active protection procedures is to improve the quality of the moor frog's habitat while enabling mining operations in parts of the area. The implementation of active protection measures of the moor frog is a novelty in Finland. As the best policy is to take action early in order to predict environmental impact and prevent potential harms, the active protection of the species was initiated long before the implementation of the planned project. In an early stage, the summer of 2015, three new moor frog ponds were dug in connection with the planned open pit mine and the existing moor frog habitat in the area of Syväjärvi and Heinäjärvi, and another pond was added in 2016. The purpose of the ponds is to provide the moor frog with a place to breed and rest, thus improving the habitat of the moor frogs in the area. Moor frogs will travel to the new breeding ponds situated at a maximum distance of about one kilometre from the existing breeding ponds.
The distribution of the golden eagle covers the arctic regions of the entire Northern hemisphere. According to a survey by BirdLife, about 8,400–11,000 pairs of golden eagles were nesting in Europe in the early 2000s. In 2010, about 300–400 pairs were estimated to be nesting in Finland. In the assessment of endangered species, the golden eagle was still found vulnerable.
The mining areas of Keliber Oy are partly situated in the territory of a golden eagle. Keliber has commissioned an operating plan to improve the quality of the Vionneva golden eagle territory and to guarantee the favourable protection level during the lithium mine project. The plan was made by the design firm Ramboll Finland Oy. The work was supervised by biologist Hannu Tikkanen (M.A.) and environmental planner Heikki Tuohimaa. Eagle ringer Tuomo Puutio provided the information on the eagle territory. He has also been heard as an expert for the making of the plan.
The objectives of the procedures are as follows:
- The nesting of the eagles is enabled in undisturbed areas
- The quality of the territory remains unchanged or is improved
- The yield of chicks remains at least at the current level (average of 0.5 chicks per year)
- The mining projects can be implemented without substantial impact on the living conditions of the eagle.
The following measures have been taken to prevent potential harms and improve the quality of the territory:
- Artificial nests have been built outside the disturbed area,
- Artificial feeding during wintertime has been started, and
- Satellite tracking of the male eagle has been started.
See the plans and monitoring reports
- Organising the protection of the moor frog at the Syväjärvi lithium deposit of Keliber Oy in 2015 PDF 1,392 kB
- Organising the protection of the moor frog at the Syväjärvi lithium deposit of Keliber Oy PDF 3,371 kB
- Monitoring the moor frog at the Keliber Oy mining area in the spring of 2016 PDF 1,786 kB