Finland - Mining



For the metals industry, a key sector of its industrialized market economy, Finland depended on imports of raw materials, especially crude oil, iron ore, nickel matte, petroleum products, and zinc concentrate. Copper refining and metals production constituted a major mineral industry, with most output destined for export. Outokumpu Oyj was the third-largest zinc metal producer in Europe (15% share of the market and 5% share of world zinc production). In 2001, Finland mined chromite, foundry sand, copper, nickel, zinc, feldspar, lime, nitrogen, phosphate rock, pyrite, sodium sulfate, limestone, dolomite, granite, quartz silica sand, soapstone, sulfur, talc, and wollastonite. Mondo Minerals Oy was the largest producer of paper-grade talc in Europe, with an annual capacity of 500,000 tons from its three mines. The Kemi mine, on the Gulf of Bothnia near the Swedish border, was the only chromium mine in Scandinavia and one of the largest in the world, with estimated reserves of 150 million tons and an annual capacity of 1 million tons. Mine output of zinc in 2001 was 36,253 tons, up from 20,000 in 1999; feldspar, 34,298 tons, down from 40,000 in 1999; chromite (gross weight of ore, concentrate, and foundry sand), 575,000 tons, down from 630,000 in 2000; and copper (mine output), 41,146 tons, up from 10,500 in 1999. Exploration activities were focused largely on diamond, gold, and base metals deposits (sulfide zinc, zinc, copper, chalcopyrite, pyrite, sphalerite, and platinum-group metals, or PGM). An updated estimate for the Ahmavaara and Konttijarvi PGM deposits showed that 75,000 kg were proven resources and 728,000 kg was probable, at a cutoff grade of 0.5 grams per ton of platinum, palladium, and gold. A continuing drilling program at the Suurikuusikko gold property, in the Lapland greenstone belt, yielded an estimate of contained indicated and inferred resources of 6 million tons at an average grade of 6 grams per ton of gold. The Pyhäsalmi zinc-copper mine, in central Finland, had proven and probable reserves totaling 17.2 million tons at a grade of1.2% copper, 2.8% zinc, 0.4 grams per ton of gold, and 39% sulfur; the mine, which was sold by Outokumpu to Inmet Mining Corp. of Canada, could produce until 2015 at its 2001 production rate of 1.2 million tons per year. Finland also had capacities to mine mica, phophate-apatite, quartz, and quartzite, and to mine and produce 8 million tons per year of apatite.

Mineral reserves were declining, and many were expected to be exhausted soon, as a result of extensive mining over the past 400 years. A decision was to be made in 2001 about closure of the Hitura nickel mine, supplier of nickel concentrates for 30 years. Although Finland had scarce mineral resources, it was influential in the global mining industry as a world leader in mining technology, ore processing, and metallurgy. With the acquisition of the metallurgical businesses of Lurgi Metallurgie AG of Germany, Outokumpu Technology became the world's leading supplier of copper and zinc plants, a major supplier of aluminum technologies, and the key supplier of innovative technologies for the ferrous metals and ferroalloy industries. Government involvement in the mineral industry was considerably higher in Finland than elsewhere in the EU. State-owned companies such as Finnminers Group, Kemira Oyj, Outokumpu, and Rautaruukki Oy dominated the domestic minerals industry, while institutions such as the State Geological Research Institute and the State Technological Research Center were active in exploration and research.

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