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Environment permit renewal process to halt Estonia oil shale extraction mine

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Environment permit renewal process for oil shale mine will lead to lose of extraction permit of Eesti Energia Kaevandused.

Eesti Energia Kaevandused, the mining arm of Estonia’s state-owned energy group Eesti Energia, may in 2019 temporarily lose the extraction permit for its oil shale mine Estonia since environmental impact assessment for a new permit may take so long that the current permit will expire by that time, transmits LETA/BNS.

The current permit allows Eesti Energia Kaevandused to dig up 8.2 million tons of oil shale annually at Estonia, the world’s largest oil shale mine, until October 2019. However, the company in 2014 applied for a ten-year extension of the permit.

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The Ministry of Environment thinks the application could require an additional assessment of the environmental impact. The mining company for its part fears that the process could be protracted in which case its existing permit would expire before a new one is issued, which means it would not be able to go on mining, Eesti Energia spokesman Kaarel Kuusk told BNS.

In view of that, Eesti Energia takes the view that since the Estonia mine is a vital part of ensuring oil shale supply to the company’s electricity and oil production, the Ministry of Environment should make a separate decision to skip the environmental impact assessment so the permit would on no account expire.

The company wants the decision to be made as soon and as efficiently as possible, given that an environmental impact assessment for the Estonia deposit has already been carried out.

However, head of the mineral resources department Maris Saarsalu told BNS that an analysis made by the ministry rather inclines it to think it is necessary to initiate a new assessment but that some circumstances need to be clarified first. “We’ll make the final decision within a couple of weeks,” she said.


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