In recent years, there has been a rapid development in the production capacity of shale oil industry which increases the demand for oil shale resources. Due to that trend, companies Viru Keemia Grupp and Kiviõli Keemiatööstuse OÜ apply for a licence to open a new oil shale mine in Sonda. The aim of this analysis is to evaluate the new mine’s socio-economic impact on the residents, businesses, and local development in the mine’s sphere of influence.
Demographic developments of the region are similar to those of the whole county of Ida-Virumaa – emigration and aging of its population and low birth rate. In 2013, the population of the region surrounding the mine was over 11,000; within the last decade, it has decreased 17%, most of all the number of children and labour force.
Opening a new mine can raise the sense of economical security in the region. When working at its full capacity, the mine would estimably employ up to 500 persons, including unskilled personnel as well as specialists, and need up to 100 engineers and managers. It can also raise the average income of the locals. Altogether, it can raise the local employment in mining industry up to 5-10% of the total employment.
The indirect effect to local community would come through supply chain, as several services from the region’s enterprises would be needed. Also, opening the mine would mean investments to the region’s infrastructure and addition to local governments’ budgets through individuals’ income tax and different fees paid by the mining companies.
The locals stated that oil shale industry has influenced their life for a long time, and though they are used to it, they do not accept it. The industry should inform people more about the location of the mine and give other relevant information, as lack of information can increase the fears.