11/12/2020

Finnish Minerals Group acquires rights to Sokli mining project

Finnish Minerals Group will be responsible for assessing future development opportunities related to the project.

FINNISH MINERALG GROUP has acquired the rights to the Sokli mining project from Yara Suomi Oy. The project is located in the municipality of Savukoski, in Northern Finland. The arrangement is based on Yara’s decision to cease advancing the project on the basis of an overall strategic assessment conducted by the company.

The parties have agreed on the transfer of all technical and economic assessments, geological models and rights related to the project to Finnish Minerals Group, as well as certain land areas connected to the deal. In addition, Finnish Minerals Group will continue the ongoing execution of the mining concession to change the Sokli mining concession. The environmental permit for the Sokli mine is currently under review by the Supreme Administrative Court.

“This arrangement will allow a domestic actor to utilise the studies concerning the Sokli mine, instead of possibly having the mining rights end up with a third party. Our next goal is to analyse the development potential of the project, after which we will be able to make a final decision regarding Sokli’s future,” says Matti Hietanen, CEO of Finnish Minerals Group.

“Yara has invested in the Sokli project and the related research, permit and assessment processes. Although Yara will now withdraw from Sokli, we are pleased that Finnish Minerals Group will continue developing the project. This way, our extensive efforts will still be able to benefit Finland as a whole,” notes Tommi Hevonoja, Managing Director of Yara Finland.

Further clarification required for potential by-products and transport connections

The Sokli phosphate reserve was discovered in 1967 and has been studied ever since. Over the years, the project has had several owners. Yara Suomi Oy became the owner of the project in 2007, after which the company initiated the assessment and permit processes that were necessary for eventually opening the mine. After the ongoing execution of Sokli’s mining concession has been finalised, the new mining concession will be approximately 5,900 hectares in size. 

In 2018, Sokli was granted an environmental permit that is currently under review by the Supreme Administrative Court. The permit concerns the annual excavation of 10 million tonnes of phosphorus and iron ore, the excavation of any resulting waste rock, and all activities related to these excavation operations. The phosphorus contained in phosphate is an important raw material for agricultural fertilisers and is also used as a raw material by the battery industry. The environmental permit does not encompass the recovery of any radioactive minerals.

The ore in the area also contains other by-products, such as rare earth elements, the exploitation potential of which must be analysed further. Rare earth elements play a crucial role in, for example, electric car engines and the turbines used in wind power stations.

The European Commission has classified both phosphate rock and rare earth elements as critical raw materials on the basis of their economic importance and procurement risk. The production of many critical raw materials is currently heavily concentrated outside of Europe, which is why the EU intends to refine its strategy and increase the availability of critical raw materials to industry as flexibly as possible.

In addition to Sokli's ore by-products, the area’s logistical connections must be thoroughly assessed. Both railway and truck transports have been considered for the project, but no decisions have been made as of yet.

The opening of the mine is estimated to represent an investment of around EUR 1 billion in total. According to Finnish Minerals Group, while the project’s previous studies provide good information, the final assessment of the technical and economic viability of opening the mine can only be made after further studies have been concluded. If the implementation of the project is subsequently deemed technologically and economically unprofitable, the possibility of establishing a nature reserve in the area will be explored as well.

 

Further information:

CEO Matti Hietanen, Finnish Minerals Group, +358 40 823 8806, matti.hietanen(at)mineralsgroup.fi

 

The mission of Finnish Minerals Group is to responsibly maximise the value of Finnish minerals. We manage the State’s mining industry shareholdings and strive to develop the Finnish value chain of lithium-ion batteries. In addition, we are engaged in long-term technology development of the mining and battery industry. Through our work, we contribute to Europe moving towards electric transport and a more sustainable future. www.mineralsgroup.fi