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Legal Risk Rating
Score: 67
Low Risk
Like neighbouring Finland, Sweden's mineral law is a well-drafted and well-thought-out piece of legislation; with its Minerals Act Sweden is truly leading the way in terms of mineral policy in Europe and its fellow EU Member States would be wise to take note and follow the examples provided by the Scandinavian nations.

Regulatory Corruption Risk

Moderate Corruption Potential

Corruption Exposure Risk

Very Low Corruption Risk

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Mining Overview Commentary plus sign



Sweden, officially the Kingdom of Sweden, is located in Northern Europe, bordered by Norway to the west, Finland to the northeast, the Gulf of Bothnia to the east and the Baltic Sea to the south, with the Oresund Bridge and the Drogden tunnel collectively linking the country to Denmark. Sweden joined the European Union in January 1995 following a referendum; in 2003 a second referendum was held which resulted in the country retaining the Swedish Krona, rather than joining the Eurozone.

Sweden has a strong economy, although economic issues in other European countries have impacted its economic growth in recent years. The country’s economy relies heavily on foreign trade; refined petroleum, motor vehicles, medicaments and telephones feature in Sweden’s top exports. Key industries include telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, forestry and engineering, as well as mining.

Sweden is considered to be one of the most ‘mineral rich’ regions in Europe. It is a top-ten world producer of iron ore and the largest producer of both iron ore and lead in Europe; it is also Europe’s second largest gold, zinc and silver producer and the fourth largest producer of copper (Business Sweden). The country has three main mining regions: Norrbotten, Västerbotten and Bergslagen. Norrbotten - the northernmost province of Sweden parts of which lie within the Arctic circle - is the primary region for iron ore and state-owned mining company LKAB have been operating there for more than 100 years.

Sweden is rated 3rd in the Fraser Institute’s Policy Perception Index 2015.


The Minerals Act (Minerallagen) and the Minerals Ordinance (Mineralförordningen), both of which entered into force in 1992 and were amended as recently as 2014, are the principle pieces of mining legislation in Sweden. The industry is overseen by the Mining Inspectorate, which is part of the Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU). The Mining Inspectorate is responsible for issuing exploration permits and exploitation concessions and deciding on all matters under the Minerals Act.


Under the Minerals Act (MA), it is not necessary to obtain an exploration permit in order to conduct exploration activities (Ch. 1, s. 4, and Ch. 3, s. 2, MA) and considerable rights in this regard are awarded to the landowner. That said, any person, national or foreign may apply for mineral titles in Sweden. The following mineral titles are available:


  • Exploration Permit: EXP’s are awarded if there is reason to assume that exploration of the area could lead to the discovery of a concession mineral but shall not be granted to persons “manifestly lacking the possibility or intention of bringing about appropriate exploration” (Ch. 2, s. 2, MA). An EXP grants the holder the exclusive right to explore in the area for the specific minerals covered by the licence (Ch. 2, s. 4, MA); other exploration permits may be granted in the area for minerals not covered by the existing right “if special reasons exist” (Ch. 2, s. 4, MA), however priority of right shall be granted to the original permit holder whose work “may not be impeded or delayed by work undertaken on the basis of a right established at a later date” (Ch. 3, s. 8, MA). EXP’s are granted for a specific area not exceeding that which the holder “may be assumed to be able to explore in an appropriate manner” (Ch. 2, s. 1, MA) for an initial period of three years (Ch. 2, s. 5, MA). Various extensions are possible - in the first instance for a period of not more than three years, where appropriate exploration has taken place; a second extension may then be granted for not more than four years, where “special reasons” exist; a third extension of not more than five years may be granted if “extraordinary reasons” exist (Ch. 2, s. 7, MA). The application for the EXP must be accompanied by a plan of operations containing an account of the exploration work, a timetable for works and an assessment of the extent to which the work may affect public interests and private rights (Ch. 3, s. 5, MA; see also ss. 1 and 9a-9b, Minerals Ordinance (MO)). An EXP may be transferred with the consent of the Mining Inspectorate (see Ch. 6, s. 1, MA). EXP holders have priority of right in obtaining exploitation concessions.


  • Exploitation Concession: An EC shall be granted where a deposit has been found which can probably be utilised on an economic basis and the location and nature of the deposit does not make granting of the EC inappropriate (Ch. 4, s. 2, MA). An application for an EC must contain (amongst other information): details of the concession mineral(s); information on the properties affected by the application; details of the impact of operations on public and private interests; a plan of operations; and the conditions which, in the applicants opinion, should apply to the operations (s. 17, MO). A report on exploration work shall also be provided (s. 18, MO). EC’s are granted for an area determined on the basis of what is appropriate, taking into account the size of the deposit, purpose of the concession and other circumstances (Ch. 4, s. 1, MA). The concession shall be granted for a period of 25 years, unless a shorter period is requested; renewals for further 10-year periods are possible, providing regular exploitation is continuing at the time of renewal or in other circumstances where exploitation work is not in progress or extension is in the public interest (Ch. 4, ss. 9-10, MA). An EC may be transferred with the consent of the Mining Inspectorate (Ch. 6, s. 1, MA; see also s. 25, MO).



The MA contains a broad requirement to carry out exploration work in such a way as to cause the least possible damage to and encroachment on any person’s property; explorationists must provide a work plan in Swedish containing details such as a timetable for work; an assessment on the impact of the work on public interests and private rights; and an assessment of the damage and intrusion will be caused by the exploration work, how it will be addressed and what securities will be provided. A copy of the work plan must be provided to the landowner (as well as the Mining Inspector) and any other relevant parties with special rights under the MA; any objections must be made in writing to the rights holder within three weeks. A work plan will become valid if no objections are made or if an agreement is reached with the landowner. In cases where objections are made the Mining Inspector will decide upon the work plan. If required a notice must be served on the landowner before works begin (at least one week in advance) and when they conclude (see Ch. 3, s. 3, et seq., MA). The owner may consent to the work with or without compensation; otherwise compensation is determined pursuant to Ch. 7 of the MA (Ch. 3, ss. 1 et seq., MA). Disputes regarding compensation shall be addressed by the Mining Inspectorate (Ch. 8, s. 8, MA). EXP holders also have the right to build necessary roads and buildings to advance work (Ch. 3, s. 3, MA).  

EC holders must obtain a designation of land for exploitation. The Mining Inspectorate can allow usage of the land while designation proceedings are in progress, as long as a security is provided (Ch. 5, s. 1 Ma; see also Ch. 9, s. 36, MA). The EC holder must cover costs of affected parties and the State where applicable in respect of land designation proceedings. Compensation shall be paid for damages resulting from the granting of the concession and for damage or encroachment resulting from land usage (Ch. 7 ss. 1-4, MA). Disputes regarding compensation are handled by the Mining Inspectorate and compensation issues are, where possible, addressed during land designation proceedings. Where agreements are reached between rights holders and landowners, land designation shall be made in accordance with such agreements (Ch. 9, s. 2, MA). Appeals against land designation and compensation decisions are possible and are made to the relevant land court (Ch. 16, s. 1, MA).

An EIA is required as part of the application for an EC and failure to provide such assessment will result in an application being refused (Ch. 4, s. 2, MA; see also s. 20, MO). The EIA process is governed by the Environmental Code of 1998. The requirements for the application are clearly given, although timings for the obtainment of environmental permits are not provided.

EC holders must pay annual mineral compensation, equal to 0.002% of the calculated value of the mineral(s) covered by the EC extracted during the year (Ch. 7, s. 7, MA). Details on the determination of average pricing are outlined in the MO (see s. 48, MO). 75% of compensation shall be paid to the property owner(s) and the remaining 25% will be paid to the State (Ch. 7, s. 7, MA).


See Sweden - Environmental Overview Commentary.

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Sweden is located in Northern Europe bordered by Norway to the west, Finland to the northeast, the Gulf of Bothnia to the east and the Baltic Sea to the south. Along with Norway, Finland and a small district of Russia the country forms part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, which is one of the largest peninsulas in Europe.

Sweden has a mainly flat terrain, with forested areas accounting for over 69% of the country. Hills, mountains, lakes and river valleys can be found in the north of the country in the Norrland region, which occupies around 60% of Sweden and falls in part (15%) within the Artic Circle; in the central region of Svealand, lowlands are found in the east and highlands in the west, whilst in the southern region, Götaland, highlands, forests and plains form the terrain. The northern part of the country is sparsely populated due to the cold climate and challenging landscape. In the south a more temperate climate can be found, with sunny summers and cold winters. Due to Sweden’s northern location, parts of the country experience almost complete darkness in winter and no real darkness in the summer months.

Amongst notable wildlife are bears, moose, wolves, wolverines, lynx, foxes, reindeers and beavers; the Elk is the national animal. Pine and spruce trees are common and are the primary timber exports, whilst fir, birch, beech, oak and maple trees are also common; the national flower is the Twinflower.

Acid rain damage and pollution of both the North and Baltic Seas are key environmental issues faced by the country.


The primary environmental legislation relevant to the mining industry in Sweden is the Environmental Code 1998 (EC), which consolidated Sweden’s various environmental acts into a single piece of legislation, and the Ordinance Concerning Environmentally Hazardous Activities and the Protection of Public Health 1998 (EIA Ordinance); also relevant are the Minerals Act and the Minerals Ordinance and the various pieces of EU law and policy relevant to the environment. According to Section 1 of the EC, the law aims to promote sustainable development and assure a healthy and sound environment for present and future generations.

Sweden has both national and regional environmental authorities. At the national level, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) handles policy issues with the aim of achieving national environmental objectives and is consulting during the environmental permitting process, whilst at the regional level the Land and Environmental Courts, Land and Environmental Court of Appeal and County Administrative Boards are the relevant licensing authorities, responsible for overseeing and issuing environmental permits in Sweden.


Exploitation activities will require an Environmental Permit (EP) prior to the commencement of works. Not all activities which require an EP will need to conduct an environmental impact assessment (EIA) as part of the application process, however pursuant to Chapter 4, section 2 of the Minerals Act, EIA are required as part of the application for an exploitation concession and failure to provide such assessment will result in an application being refused.

The EC and EIA Ordinance govern both the EIA process and the general application process for an EP. Pursuant to Chapter 9, section 3, an EIA is required in order to establish and describe the direct and indirect impact of the planned activity and to enable an overall assessment of the impact on human health and the environment. The guidelines below outline the application process for the EP, including information on the EIA process.


  • Applications for an EP for mining projects are reviewed by the relevant Land and Environmental Court (LEC) (s. 6, EIA Ordinance; see also Appendix, EIA Ordinance). The application must be accompanied by an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) (Ch. 6, s. 1, EC). Prior to submitting an application parties must consult the County Administrative Board (CAB) “at an early stage” and private individuals who may be affected by the activity in “good time” (Ch. 6, s. 4, EC). In addition basic information must be submitted to the CAB and relevant private individuals prior to the application, detailing the location, extent and nature of the planned activity and its anticipated environmental impact (Ch. 6, s.4, EC).


  • The EIS must be prepared and contain: a description of the activity with details of its location, design and scope; a description of the measures being planned with a view to avoiding, mitigating or remedying adverse effects; information that is needed to establish and assess the main impacts on human health, the environment and management of land, water and other resources; a description of the possible alternative sites and designs, together with a statement of the reasons why the design and location has been chosen and a description of the consequences if the activity is not implemented; and a non-technical summary of all the information contained within the EIS (Ch. 6, s. 7, EC).


  • Activities which require an EIA (e.g. exploitation activities) must conduct extensive consultations with other government agencies, relevant municipalities, citizens and organisations that are likely to be affected by the project. (Ch. 6, s. 5, EC). The consultations shall relate to the location, scope, design and environmental impact of the activity as well as the content and structure of the EIS (Ch. 6, s. 5, EC).


  • The application to the LEC must contain: information, drawings and technical descriptions that are necessary for the assessment of the nature and scope of the activity; the EIS and information on consultations; information that is necessary for an assessment of compliance with the general environmental rules; proposals for any protective measures that may be necessary in order to prevent or remedy the adverse effects of the activity; and proposals for control of the activity (Ch. 22, s. 1, EC). Copies shall be given to the relevant government authorities (Ch. 22, s. 4, EC).


  • Following the preparation of the EIS and submission of the application, the LEC must publish a notice containing: a brief presentation of the application and information for the procedures relating to owners of properties that may be affected, disputes and comments (including time limits). The notice must be posted in a local newspaper. (Ch. 22, s. 3, EC) as well as communicated to various other relevant parties (see. Ch. 22, ss. 4-5, EC).


  • The LEC shall carry out certain preparatory proceedings following the publication of the notice; comments on the application must be submitted (Ch. 22, s. 10, EC) and the LEC must ensure that the direction and scope of the judicial inquiry are appropriate (Ch. 22, s. 11, EC). Preliminary oral hearings are held and the LEC shall summon the relevant parties (Ch. 22, s. 11, EC); inspections may be carried out where necessary (Ch. 22, s. 18, EC). During preliminary proceedings it may be possible for the LEC to decide without a main hearing that measures may be taken to prevent or mitigate damage or adverse effects before a final decision is taken; in such cases a security must be provided to the CAB (Ch. 22, s. 14, EC). The LEC may also deem preparatory proceedings unnecessary and skip to the main hearing stage; the main hearing can take place, at the earliest, within three weeks of the publication of notice (Ch. 22, s. 17, EC).


  • The LEC shall conduct a main hearing if necessary (Ch. 22, s. 16, EC) which, as well as deciding on the grant of an EP, shall also address any property disputes (Ch. 22, s. 9, EC). The EPA, various other government agencies and the municipality where the project is located have the right to plead in the case in order to safeguard environmental and pubic interests (Ch. 22, s. 6, EC). A summary of the application and claims shall be made and a report prepared (Ch. 22, s. 20, EC). The judgement shall be delivered “as soon as possible” or within a maximum of two months following the conclusion of the main hearing (Ch. 22, s. 21, EC). The LEC shall also decide on expropriation issues and / or compulsory purchase matters (Ch. 22, ss. 23-24, EC).


  • Where the LEC decides to grant the EP the judgement may contain (amongst other things) details of: the period of validity; the purpose, situation, scope, safety and technical design of the activity; supervision, inspections and checks; liability for compensation and the method of payment; any fees or charges; any conditions that are necessary to prevent or limit harmful impact; conditions relating to waste disposal; land, water and natural resources management provisions; securities and rehabilitation provisions; the period for which claims for unforeseen damage may be made; litigation costs; and the time limit for activities to commence (Ch. 22, s. 25, EC).


Certain exploration activities may also require an environmental permit if the supervisory authority believes they involve the risk of significant pollution or may cause significant detriment to human health or the environment (Ch. 9, s. 6, EC). In such cases the CAB shall initially be consulted and provided with general information on the relevant activities, in order to allow the CAB to determine whether the activity is likely to have a significant environmental impact (Ch. 6, s. 4, EC).

Decisions on EP’s may be appealed to the relevant LEC (if the decision was made by the CAB) or the Land and Environmental Court of Appeal (if the decision was made by the LEC) (see Ch. 23, EC). The EP shall be granted for a maximum period of 10 years, with extensions possible (see Ch. 24, EC). EP’s may be withdrawn or revised in certain circumstances (Ch. 24, ss. 3 & 5, EC).



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