Scoping study of Sokli mining project completed – would significantly strengthen Finnish mineral production
The results of the scoping study show that the Sokli deposit in Savukoski could produce not only phosphate and iron but also various rare earth elements (REE), which are essential in the transition to using renewable energy.
16. February 2023
Finnish Minerals Group initiated the scoping study at the end of 2021, and now the survey and analysis work is complete. According to the results, Sokli could produce nearly 10% of the amount of REE that is needed annually in Europe to make permanent magnets. In addition, Sokli could fulfil more than 20% of Europe’s annual demand for phosphate. However, much of the mineral potential of Sokli remains uncharted.
“According to the scoping study, economically viable and environmentally sustainable mining operations are achievable at Sokli. In our opinion, the findings serve as a basis for continuing the survey and analysis work. If operations were to begin, the mine would strengthen the autonomy of European industry and reduce our dependence on exported minerals,” says Matti Hietanen, CEO of Finnish Minerals Group.
The mine would also bring new jobs to Savukoski and Northern Finland, and the operations would increase the demand for services and products both locally and more widely.
Relocation of functions would reduce the environmental impact and carbon footprint
In addition to mineral potential mapping, infrastructure and logistics solutions were also studied. Some of the mine’s production phase functions could be located outside the Sokli area. In practice, this would mean transporting the mined ore via an underground transport pipe for processing dozens of kilometres away from Sokli. It has not yet been determined where further processing of the ore will take place, but it could be somewhere between Sokli and Kemijärvi. The transport pipe would also help keep the carbon footprint of production low.
“We are seeking a solution that can maximise the value of Finnish minerals with the fewest environmental effects and the lowest carbon footprint possible. It is not necessarily sensible to run all the operations in a remote and hard-to-reach mining site, when some of the functions could be established somewhere that is more suitable for the environment, other livelihoods and local residents. We are in a great position to develop Sokli into a responsible mine that will serve as a trailblazer for the mining industry”, says Pasi Heino, Project Director at Finnish Minerals Group for the Sokli mining project.
Water management is important in the project. Accordingly, Finnish Minerals Group is working to minimise changes to surface and ground water as well as safeguard the trout habitat in Nuorttijoki river.
Globally unique mineral potential
Sokli’s mineral resources are globally significant. However, the area’s potential has not been studied comprehensively before. In addition to phosphate and iron, the Sokli deposit contains REE, niobium, hafnium, tantalum, manganese, vermiculite, zircon, copper, silver and uranium.
“Europe aims to be a carbon neutral continent by 2050, and REE are essential in implementing the green transition. At the moment, however, there is hardly any REE production in Europe despite the growing demand. The transition from fossil fuels towards the use of renewable energy sources and a genuine circular economy cannot be achieved without new mines,” says Jani Kiuru, SVP Raw Materials at Finnish Minerals Group.
REE are used in permanent magnets, which are needed in, for example, electric cars, wind turbines, solar panels, the production of consumer electronics and the defense industry.
Further investigations required in the mining project
As the result of the scoping study, issues have been identified that still require further investigation. The aim of Finnish Minerals Group is that during 2023, decisions will be made on initiating the next assessment phase.
Provided that the further assessments confirm the conclusions of the scoping study and EIA and permitting processes can be initiated, building the infrastructure for the mine could commence in the early 2030s. As an investment, the mine would amount to roughly between 1 and 1.5 billion euros and based on current research data the life of the mine could be several decades.
Matti Hietanen, CEO, Finnish Minerals Group
firstname.lastname(at)mineralsgroup.fi, +358 40 823 8806
Pasi Heino, Project Director, Sokli mining project
firstname.lastname(at)mineralsgroup.fi, +358 50 5535 032
Jani Kiuru, SVP, Raw Materials
firstname.lastname(at)mineralsgroup.fi, +358 40 823 8471
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. Through our work, we contribute to Europe moving towards electric transport and a more sustainable future. www.mineralsgroup.fi