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Sokli could double European phosphate production and strengthen domestic raw material production

In addition to phosphate, the deposit contains significant quantities of rare earth elements that are both essential for the transition to renewable energy and important raw materials for the defence industry.


04. June 2024

The Sokli mineral deposit, which is located in northeast Savukoski, could reduce the EU's future dependency on imports of critical and strategic raw materials. ‘Critical raw materials’ are raw materials that have both a vital economic importance for the EU and a high risk of disruption to supply.

Survey results indicate that, in addition to phosphate, the Sokli deposit also contains rare earth elements, niobium, copper, manganese, vermiculite and iron. All of these, with the exception of vermiculite and iron, are on the list of critical raw materials.

The preliminary reports analysed a variety of different production alternatives.

“For example, phosphate production could be one million tons per year. This would be a significant volume with regard to food production: if used to make fertilisers, it would feed 60 million people,” says Pasi Heino, Project Director for the Sokli mining project.

Siilinjärvi is currently the only phosphate mine in the EU that produces around one million tons of phosphate per annum. If implemented, Sokli would therefore double phosphate production in Europe.

“All of the other phosphate used in Europe is imported from outside the EU, from countries such as Morocco and Russia. Sokli would therefore be a really important factor in ensuring Europe’s security of supply,” says Heino.

1,500 wind turbines or two million electric cars

Some of the rare earth elements found in the Sokli deposit, such as neodymium and praseodymium, are raw materials for permanent magnets. The use of permanent magnets has grown significantly in recent years, for example, in wind power, but Europe’s supply of their main raw materials is dependent on China. The EU is also aiming for self-sufficiency in this area.

“Sokli’s annual production of rare earth elements would be enough for about 1,500 new wind turbines,” says Heino.

For comparison, there were a total of 1,601 active wind turbines in Finland at the end of 2023 (source: Motiva, a Finnish state-owned sustainable development company).

Alternatively, Sokli’s annual production of rare earth elements would be enough to make two million batteries for electric vehicles. The niobium contained in the Sokli deposit would cover up to 80 per cent of annual demand within the EU. Niobium has a number of uses, such as being a raw material for special steel in the defence industry.

Geological surveys and new mineral discoveries

Exploratory drilling began in Sokli in autumn 2023, and about 12 kilometres of holes had been drilled by summer 2024. The surveys discovered two new minerals containing rare earth elements, kukharenkoite and cordylite, neither of which have been found in Finland before.

Heino says that Sokli’s mineral deposit is a dream come true for geologists, but also a nightmare for process engineers, as it comprises such a broad range of raw materials.

“We’re often asked why more surveys are still required after decades of research in Sokli. The earlier studies analysed only a limited number of ores and raw materials, while our mission is to determine the usability of all potential ores and raw materials,” says Heino.

Geological drilling continued in the mining concession’s current area at the beginning of June 2024. It was carried out using magnetic ground measurements and other geophysical techniques that facilitate bedrock mapping. Solid baseline data helps to optimise drilling, which in turn reduces both costs and environmental impacts.

Environmental considerations

Waterways, fish and nature values are particularly important in the planning of this project. Surveys are being used to collect accurate background information about environmental values. Several supplementary nature studies have been carried out in the Sokli area in recent years, and have generated more information about nature values in both Sokli and the surrounding area. These nature studies have also been expanded to areas outside the mining concession itself.

“We continued to study fish stocks last year, and obtained data on both fish stocks and production of young fish. We’re also constantly monitoring the water level of both surface water and groundwater,” says Samuli Nikula, Sokli’s Sustainability Manager.

A major impact on the local economy

If implemented, the Sokli mining project would have significant impacts on Eastern Lapland’s economy. During construction and mining, the project would directly employ hundreds of people and also create additional indirect labour impacts. The project already employs locals, both directly and indirectly.

“We were very pleased to find a highly skilled workforce in the area. When it comes to competitive tenders for contractors, we will be giving extra weight to locally based companies and the use of local labour,” says Heino, Project Director.

The number of people employed by Sokli Oy has increased from two to thirteen over the past year. Personnel from the parent company, the Finnish Minerals Group, are also working on the project. The project will also recruit a number of summer employees.

A safe and modern working environment

Sokli is more than 90 kilometres from the nearest urban area. It is therefore even more important for the project to develop and maintain a good safety culture.

Heino says that Sokli has changed significantly since he started work on the project three years ago.

“All of the infrastructure dated back to the 1970s and 1980s, and was in really bad condition. We therefore renovated the area to meet today’s requirements. Water is now obtained from a dedicated bore well instead of a spring, and electricity from the national grid rather than a diesel generator. At the moment, we’re also carrying out construction work at the base in order to create more work space in halls and build accommodation for our growing number of employees.”

A responsible operator

Miia Mikkonen, Project Development Manager for the Sokli mining project, says that everything revolves around maintaining dialogue with local actors. The goal is to make sure that mining operations can be reconciled with existing business activities.

“Our project planning revolves around sustainability, and we aim to be an open, honest and locally visible operator,” says Mikkonen.

Venues for dialogue include the regular Sokli coffee meetings that are held at our office in the centre of Savukoski, and which are open to everyone.”

“These events give us the chance to interact with local residents and businesses, to share progress in our work, and to find out what locals would like to know more about. We take their wishes into account as much as possible, so that we can address matters that are of particular interest to locals,” says Mikkonen.


More information:

Pasi Heino, Project Director, Sokli mining project
firstname.lastname(at), +358 50 5535 032

Jani Kiuru, SVP, Raw Materials
firstname.lastname(at), +358 40 823 8471

Learn more about Sokli interactively


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.


04. June 2024