23/08/2019

Mine brings welcomed business to Kaustinen

People in Kaustinen are waiting for the opening of the Keliber mine and the start of production. The municipality is supporting the project with its own activities. The mayor has a small request for the state regarding road arrangements.

Arto Alpia
Mayor, Kaustinen

We here in Kaustinen, Finland know that mining projects take time. The local lithium deposit has been drilled and studied already in the 1960s. During the peak years of Nokia mobile phones, we explored the technical and commercial opportunities for exploiting the lithium reserves.

However, it is only now that the time is ripe for the project of Keliber Oy with the rise of electric cars and increased demand for lithium batteries. The company has announced its goal of launching mining operations and production of lithium chemicals in the early 2020s. The starting of the operations is also a big thing for us municipal residents.

Mine brings new job opportunities

Kaustinen is known, above all else, for music. In fact, violin playing from Kaustinen has been proposed for the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. In addition to culture, we also have agriculture, small-scale industry and industrial maintenance business, among other things.

I personally present Kaustinen as a comfortable, safe place where upcoming mining operations are creating new job opportunities. For children and youth, we have a new day care centre and secondary school, and our municipal council just decided on the partial new construction and renovation of the national College of Music.

The municipality supports new business

Local residents have been interested in the mining project’s impact on jobs and the economy as well as on traffic volumes and the environment. In my opinion, Keliber has done an excellent job with communication to the decision-makers and residents of Kaustinen. The role of the municipality is to promote the mining project with its own contribution.

We are currently in the process of zoning pit and production areas while also planning residential and business areas. We have also brought together entrepreneurs for cooperation, organised training for potential future employees of the enrichment plant and made efforts to help Keliber in recruitment.

Lessons and experiences from Sotkamo

A report covering the employment effects of the mining operations in the construction and production phases as well as their multiplier effects in other industries has been conducted on the Keliber project. In this context, it has been estimated that, during the construction phase, the direct and indirect employment effect would be between 200 and 900 person-years, i.e. full-time employees, per year. The employment range of the construction phase is large because most of the work in this phase is expected to fall outside the area. However, once the operations have started, the Keliber project will require the daily work contribution of approximately 350–450 employees in total in the Kaustinen-Kokkola area every year.

Compared to many mining projects, Keliber’s operations will be small in scale, but bring their own challenges. For example, with our visit to Sotkamo, what particularly stuck in my mind was the expectations related to accommodation and availability of emplyees during construction, which are challenging issues to solve in our area as well.

Rise of electric cars is a step towards a better tomorrow

I think that each municipality views mines from its own perspective. In some areas, it is assumed that tourism, for example, will create more jobs than mining would ever bring. I think that open discussion is important.

Small-scale mining is a really good fit for Kaustinen. And today, with the carbon footprint of transport being a constant topic of conversation, the rise of electric cars is a step towards a better tomorrow.

This time, I only have one, very small wish for the country’s politicians: please include money for the road arrangements of Keliber’s mining operations in the autumn’s supplementary budget. The area’s ELY Centre does not have the money, but plans are in place. Lithium cannot yet be transported wirelessly either.