Legal experts in environmental matters

Mineral resources

Mining of mineral resources is on one hand inevitable to gain access to valuable raw materials, but on the other it has a significant negative impact to the well-being of local communities as well as natural environment. Therefore it is essential that all relevant interests are considered and balanced in making decisions on mining.

EELC has found that in practice, due account is often not given to human health, well being and nature protection. Mining operations are authorized one by one without determining whether a specific location is the most suitable of the alternatives. Therefore planning of new mines is a process that is not transparent and inaccessible to the public concerned. In addition, cumulative impacts of mining are often not assessed.

EELC aims to change this situation. We are pushing for a change in legal norms and application practice to ensure that:

1)     planning of new mines is carried out transparently and openly and cumulative impacts are properly assessed;

2)     environmental protection measures provided in mining permits are adequate for the protection of natural environment, human health and well-being;

3)     the laws would not allow mining permits to be issued if they result in excessive environmental impacts.

EELCs activities in the field of minerals extraction began in 2009 by providing free legal aid in individual cases. In 2010 we published our first analysis on the procedure for opening new mines and its shortcomings. These shortcomings have been further exemplified in our later cases, e.g. cases about Esivere dolomite quarry and Ess-soo peat bog. In order to solve the problems identified, we have actively taken part of the discussions on the draft Earth' s Crust Act published in spring 2014 and entered into force in 2016. 

In 2014-2016 our activities in the field of mineral resources and their extraction were funded by a project supported by the NGO Fund which we carried out in cooperation with Estonian Fund for Nature and Estonian Society for the (Protection of) Mineral Resources.

In the end of 2014, we published two legal analyses: one on obligations imposed on companies in mining permits and one on possibilities for spatial planning of mining areas. Both analyses are available in Estonian only, but you can always contact us for more info on them.


To change the current situation we have actively spoken out on both the new draft Earth Crust Act as well as Spatial Planning Act that are both have been adopted by now:

Earth Crust Act

Spatial Planning Act

In addition to that we have commented the draft strategy on the most important (also impact-wise) mineral resource – oil shale.


NB! Above materials are unfortunately available only in Estonian. If you want a better insight into our advocacy goals, activities or successes in English then write us an e-mail at or give us a call at +372 742 4524.