22/11/2019

The FEM Conference highlighted new mineral sector prospects

At the Fennoscandian Exploration and Mining Conference (FEM), held in Levi in October, the future prospects for the mineral sector in Northern Finland were estimated to be positive. The situation in mineral prospecting in particular was found promising.

Mika Riipi
County Governor of Lapland, Regional Council of Lapland

The 12th Fennoscandian Exploration and Mining Conference (FEM) was held in Levi at the end of October. The conference, already an established tradition, brought together more than 1,200 participants from 32 different countries and more than 400 organisations to the snowy Lapland. As customary, the participants represented a wide range of exploration and mining sector companies operating in the Fennoscandian region, key stakeholders, public authorities, and businesses supporting the sector.

The event is put together by a wide cooperation network: the northern regional councils, the Geological Surveys of Finland, Sweden and Norway, several universities, various companies, and the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. The collaboration between FEM and the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) dates back to the early 2000s. 

The purpose of the conference is to provide a platform where all mineral-sector players and stakeholders biannually get together to discuss topical themes in the sector, to hear the latest news, and to increase transparency within the industry.

The prospects within the sector look promising in Lapland

The conference made a cautious estimate that the prospects of the exploration and mining industry seem positive in northern Finland. All the three mines currently in production in Lapland − Kittilä, Kevitsa, and Kemi − have made major investments over the past few years, and their production output and future outlook are strong. Investments have been made in environmental sustainability, and the operators have a strong social license for their activities in the region.

However, the sector showing a particular promise in Lapland is prospecting. Sakatti and Sokli have already come far in their permit application processes and are close to making investment decisions. Furthermore, there are several other projects in Lapland still in their surveying phases. Some of them seem to have quite promising deposits, based on the data gathered so far, the expectations being particularly high for the gold deposit in the Rompas area in Ylitornio.

Higher predictability for the industry required from the Finnish Government

This time, perhaps the hottest topic at FEM was the predictability within the sector, and particularly the policies included in the Finnish Government's programme regarding mining industry. While the industry had concerns about the increasing tax burden in the sector, it also emphasised the importance of a better targeting of tax revenues and income effects to the municipalities with mines than today. Other concerns highlighted at the conference included the fact that exploration is becoming more difficult in conservation areas, and the failing national ability to seek compensatory solutions in nature conservation.

However, as the most difficult issue, the sector identified the raise of tax category which is planned for the electricity used in mines. The industry is undergoing a major transition, as efforts are being made at every level to electrify transport and logistics, and thus make a contribution to climate action. A substantial increase in the price of electricity would cause unfortunate delays in this process.

We can all tackle climate change together

All in all, FEM conveyed a strong belief that, in the future, the mineral and mining industry may grow sustainably in the whole Fennoscandian region and act as a strong pioneer in the climate action, cutting across society as a whole. A responsible and sustainable mineral sector is at the very heart of operations, when we want to develop circular economy, promote electrification, and accelerate the adoption of new environmentally friendly technologies. We should bear this in mind, especially in such countries with high-level technology and knowledge as Finland and other Nordic countries. With the help of new innovations, we can contribute to climate action while creating sustainable growth and well-being.
 

Mika Riipi

maakuntajohtaja, Lapin liitto