22.08.2011

Search for rare earth metals can accelerate mining boom in Finland

North and east Finland are among the most promising areas for rare earth metals in the EU.

The ongoing mining boom in Finland may accelerate to a whole new level over the next few years as the international interest in rare earth metals intensifies. Finland’s bedrock is viewed as unusually promising for the occurrence of rare earth metals. At least 60 different companies have explored rare earth metals in north and east Finland during the past five years, according to Lauri Ojanen, principal of University of Oulu.

Rare earth metals are a group of 17 elements with unique chemical, electrical, magnetic or optical characteristics which are very important in the production of components in the technology industry. Their prices have increased steeply in the last few years as China, the major producer of rare earth metals, has restricted exports.

The latest research by Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) suggests that it is very possible that commercially viable deposits will be discovered in Finland, according to Olli Sarapää, a specialist researcher at GTK. The Canadian company Tasman Metals has already started exploration drilling for niobium, yttrium and zirconium in Kajaani, northern Finland.

Output in the Finnish mining sector increased by 18% in June compared to the same period one year ago. Employment in the mining sector is also expected to increase significantly in the coming years. The EU consumes 20-25% of the world’s minerals but from this only 3% is processed in the EU region.


Source: Kauppalehti