Last year (on November 6), Postimees addressed the issue of security for the supply of construction minerals, noting that limestone reserves will continue in Harju County for only five years, but the situation is getting worse every month. The government could solve the crisis of construction resources by transferring a much larger share of mining fees to the local community for environmental projects to compensate for the disturbances, writes Paekivitoodete Tehase OÜ board member Kuldar Õunapuu.
The imminent depletion of existing quarries and the need to open new ones are usually only discussed in view of large-scale public facilities, Rail Baltic, and four-lane roads. However, the owner of mineral resources, the state, has a responsibility to secure our daily construction industry with raw materials.
Some activists and municipal leaders driven by personal political interests are successfully throwing a monkey wrench into opening up new quarries, using slogans declaring nature protection. The closest example comes from Jõelähtme municipality in Harju County, where the governing coalition essentially abandoned its mineral policy, saying no even to geological research. With such a comfortable and ignorant attitude, huge sums of money are shoveled into law companies every year to keep pointless litigation afloat. It has nothing to do with the preservation of the living environment and the inevitable green revolution – only pure adventurism.
Unfortunately, the processes leading to the issuance of mining permits are taking longer and longer in local governments, as the regulations established by the state make it extremely difficult to find a compromise with the society. The society’s interest in opening quarries cooled down when the municipality’s share of mining fees was sharply reduced. Neighboring municipalities, where there were no mines or quarries, watched with envy as, for example, in some town halls, toilets became over the top luxurious. The environmental fee received by the municipality should be significantly higher than it is at present, but it should only be used for environmental projects. The town hall does not need gold door handles.
If we do not motivate the local community to allow responsible mining, we will lose our economic growth, our lucrative jobs, and our ability to go along with the green transition.