Beowulf Mining Plc confirmed further delays Sept. 23 at its Kallak iron ore project in northern Sweden, after the company said it lodged a revised exploitation concession application with the Mining Inspectorate, taking into account a recent court ruling that found miners must consider the environmental effects of their activities over a wider area than was previously the case.
It is the second time London-listed Beowulf lodged the concession application. Its last application was approved by the Mining Inspectorate in October last year, but was later sent back for review by the Swedish government following the Supreme Administrative Court's February decision to cancel Tasman Metals Ltd.'s mining contract, after finding that the company's Norra Karr rare earths project may have had a wider environmental impact than originally covered in its impact report.
"They moved the goal posts on us in February," Kurt Budge, CEO of Beowulf Mining, told SNL Metals & Mining Sept. 23.
The court decision put dozens of mining projects in the country into question, Per Ahl, managing director of Swedish mining sector lobby group SveMin, said during a July interview with SNL Metals & Mining.
Budge said the company's new exploitation concession application, which also removed plans that triggered protests in 2014 to build a road through a nature preserve, revised the boundaries to include both the Kallak North ore body area and the surrounding region, in line with the court's decision.
But Budge noted that, despite the company's existing environmental impact study having already taken into consideration all of the possible wider effects of the proposed mine, there was no guarantee the application concession would not be challenged.
"We did exhaustive studies on the water impact, animal husbandry, fishing — studies that aren't normally part of a study like that, we did them," he said. "In mining there is always somebody opposed to a project. It is possible somebody will appeal, but we have no control over that."
Beowulf stock trading in London rose 5.88% on thin volumes after the Sept. 23 announcement, to 4.5 pence apiece.
Budge also stressed that the company has been working with all local communities, including in Jokkmokk, as well as leaders of the indigenous Sami people.
Jobs, the state of the local economy and the decline in the region's population were all big concerns in the area, he said, noting that a power company closure resulted in the loss of 40 jobs in Jokkmokk last year.
"Kallak has the potential to create 250 long term jobs," Budge said in a Sept. 23 statement.
The revised concession application must now be approved by the Mining Inspectorate, and then by the government again. The company did not provide an estimated schedule for the permit applications.
He said the new liberal-leaning Social Democrats-Green Party coalition in Sweden had not been "very proactive" in pushing the project forward.
"That is just something you have to deal with as a mining company."
Beowulf is aiming to construct an iron ore mine to produce upward of 71%-pure iron ore for use in the pellet and direct-reduced iron markets of Europe and the Middle East.
Kallak, located near the town of Jokkmokk, above the Arctic circle, hosts indicated resources of 118.4 million tonnes at 27.5% iron, with inferred resources of 33.8 million tonnes at 26.2% iron, according to SNL Metals & Mining information.
But environmentalists and the local Sami indigenous people have helped delay the project by raising concerns over the impact on the nearby Jelka-Rimakabba nature reserve, as well as on migrating reindeer and local communities. Separate concerns were also raised over whether mining activity could destabilize hydro-electric dams in the area.
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