Police suspect that the Dragon Mining company felled trees in an area earmarked for protection, as it was a habitat for the woodland brown butterfly (Lopinga achine). This rare species is listed as vulnerable and protected throughout Finland. Police say the area in question covers 2-4 hectares.
The mining company itself reported the logging to the local Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centre), which in turn filed a criminal complaint with police last February.
The future mine is located at Kaapelinkulma, about four kilometres from the centre of Valkeakoski. The nearest houses are a few hundred metres away, and local residents have been calling for changes in the mine's environmental permit.
Mining firm admits mistake
The mining company says that the logging occurred by mistake last September. Dragon Mining's production manager, Ilpo Mäkinen, says that when the company found out about that the trees had been cut down, it notified authorities and drew up a plan to rehabilitate the area.
Dragon Mining has planted new trees in the area, which Mäkinen will provide protection for the woodland brown butterflies. The firm claims that no protected species were found in the area, and denies endangering the butterfly species.
ELY Centre demands impact study
Police are looking into who was responsible for the logging and how intentional it was. Detective Chief Inspector Antti Uusipaikka tells Yle that even if was done by mistake, that does not protect anyone from being charged with a crime.
The ELY Centre is considering the mining company's rehab plan and demanding that the firm monitor how the felling has impacted the species.
Dragon Mining plans to begin mining soon, but has not announced an exact date yet.