Mining has been carried out in the Nordic region for over a thousand years, and Finland has a strong tradition of ore mining and metal production. Interest in mineral projects in the Nordic region has been increasing, partly driven by the fact that Nordic countries host similar geological conditions as the strong mining nations Australia and Canada.
The Fennoscandian shield is a geological formation that stretches through Norway, Sweden and Finland and is considered to provide very good conditions for mineral deposits. This, together with other factors, such as infrastructure, legislation, and accessibility to relevant expertise, make the Nordic region an attractive area for exploration. Although exploration in recent years has increased, the Nordic countries are considered to be underdeveloped compared to corresponding geological areas in, for example, Australia, Canada, Brazil and South Africa. One of the reasons for the relatively limited extent of prospecting in the Nordic region is that it was only in the 1990s that foreign exploration and mining companies were allowed to freely prospect and extract minerals in the region.
Mine production in Finland
Mine production has historically played a major part in the Finnish industry. Increased international interest in the Finnish mining sector has resulted in a positive trend for exploration and mining. In 2016, some 8.5 tonnes of gold were extracted in Finland, making it the largest producer in Europe (excluding Turkey). The country’s good infrastructure, the large sparsely populated areas and the availability of detailed and extensive geological data produced by the Geological Survey of Finland make Finland an attractive mining country. Furthermore, Finland’s stable political and economic situation and the country’s well-functioning mining and environmental legislation are considered to be important positive factors.
In addition to active exploration and mining companies, leading internationally active mining technology suppliers such as Metso and Outotec are headquartered in Finland. Furthermore, there are a number of smaller consulting and contracting companies in the exploration and mining sector. In its annual survey of mining companies, Fraser Institute has rated Finland as one of the top 10 mining regions globally for several consecutive years.
Mining legislation in Finland
The Finnish mining legislation is governed by the Mining Act (621/2011), which entered into force on 1 July 2011 (the “Current Mining Act”), and the Decree on Mining Activities which entered into force on 1 July 2012. The central objective of the current legislation is to ensure that mining is conducted in a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable manner.
The scope of the law covers approximately 50 different metallic elements, 30 different minerals, marble and soapstone. Any person or company established in the European Economic Area (EEA) has the right to practice mining and mining operations in Finland. As of 1 July 2011, the Safety and Chemicals Agency (TUKES) is the licensing and surveillance authority for exploration and mining operations in Finland. Pursuant to the provisions of the Finnish legislation, TUKES issues reservations, survey conditions (ore mining state in the Finnish legislation) and processing concessions (mining permit in the Finnish legislation) to those who meet the current requirements. However, the Finnish Government (State Council) decides on the landfilling of mining areas and on cases relating to the extraction of uranium or thorium.