Representatives of Riigikogu parliamentary groups have expressed support for mineral exploration, including phosphorite, in Lääne-Viru County, but disagree when it comes to the prospect of mining.
The state intends to begin exploring possibilities for mining phosphorite in Lääne-Viru County. In the late 1980s, this same interest sparked a protest movement known as the Phosphorite War. Parliamentary groups in the Riigikogu have not yet formally expressed their positions on the matter, but several MPs are nonetheless willing to comment on the matter.
"The fact that it's the state that wants to explore this is welcome," said MP Siret Kotka-Repinski (Cenre). "A few years ago, the issue was the fact that a private company expressed interest in doing so. It wanted to explore with the intention of mining later."
Isamaa MP Siim Kiisler noted that Estonia needs to know what natural resources it possesses. "And we certainly must know what modern opportunities exist to utilize them," he continued. "But first we need to understand what we even have. Knowing something is never a bad thing."
MP Helle-Moonika Helme, deputy chairwoman of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) parliamentary group, agrees. "I am convinced that we should at the very least know what and how much of something we have, and where it is," she said. "Exploration doesn't necessarily mean mining; we need to keep that in mind."
Social Democratic Party (SDE) chairman Indrek Saar, however, believes that in light of current knowledge, phosphorite-related activities are very harmful to the environment. On the other hand, however, more up-to-date information is needed regarding Estonia's mineral resources. "So that we'd have some kind of modern information regarding what we even have, and whether it would be possible at some point in the future to discuss the utilization of these mineral resources," he explained.
While MPs tend to agree on the necessity of mineral exploration, many remain skeptical regarding the prospect of mining.
Kotka-Repinski said she would certainly remain against it, as the technology isn't developed enough to begin mining in Lääne-Viru County.
Kiisler, meanwhile, said that everything must be considered and environmental impacts assessed first. "You cannot draw the automatic connection that if it is explored, then it will be mined," he said. "That's not how it goes in Estonia. That's not how it goes according to Estonian law, nor is it how it goes in actual practice either."
Helme added that mineral exploration should take place with participation from the state. "The state will explore, the state will also mine, and the state will also realize," she said. "If we're talking about the entire process, then all revenues must go toward the benefit of the state and its residents."
Editor: Aili Vahtla