There is no doubt that the race to new energy and the reduction of CO2 production has vastly changed the mining fortunes of several countries – and one of those is Finland.
Interest in the mineral prospectivity of the Scandinavian country has grown in recent years with the knowledge it is home to several critical minerals and a supportive government.
The Geological Survey of Finland (GTK), says the country is the only EU member state with significant battery mineral mining operations and processing, as well as major prospecting potential to meet battery minerals demand.
The organization has studied the potential, use, and effects of battery minerals and other energy revolution minerals, and says it is an expert in prospecting for and processing battery minerals and related solutions.
According to the GTK, Finland already has excellent expertise in the entire production chain, ranging from the mining industry to the processing of battery raw materials to technologies associated with the manufacture, use, charging, and recycling of batteries.
“In addition, Finland’s advantages include geodata sets evaluated to be the best in the world in terms of quality as well as a good and stable operating environment,” the GTK said recently.
“Finland holds great potential for the battery mineral industry. Cobalt, nickel, lithium, and graphite are key raw materials for batteries, and Finland has good opportunities to produce all of these. Finland is also a significant producer of copper, a significant metal in the energy revolution.
“GTK aims to be the world’s number one expert in battery minerals. We strive to be on the frontline of the raw material chain for minerals – especially battery minerals – related to the energy revolution in Finland and the EU.
“The mineral system models and innovations based on our high-quality research boost the prospecting efforts of battery minerals and bring results. We supplement our mineral system modelling with geometallurgy, mineral use forecasts, and considerations related to environmental and societal matters. We also offer process and utilization studies for primary and secondary materials and, for example, lifecycle management of battery minerals in our laboratories and pilot plant Mintec.”
New minerals strategy
The government of Finland is a strong supporter of the mining sector and recently played a major role in pulling together a new minerals strategy for the nation.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Finland, says the availability of natural resources and resource-based industries’ production have become essential to prosperity and well-being in a rapidly changing world.
The Finnish minerals sector covers the mining industry, which produces metallic ores and industrial minerals, as well as other extractive industries that refine rock material and natural stones. The minerals sector also includes companies who produce the machinery, equipment, technology, and services required for extraction and mining.
“Finland’s diverse mineral resources represent a significant part of the Finnish national wealth. Finnish expertise and innovations in the minerals sector also have a significant global impact, through the provision of exploration and mining equipment and processing technologies and services,” the Ministry said in a recent report.
“Effective utilization of our mineral resources both secures the supply of raw materials and creates the prerequisites for balanced and sustainable regional development far into the future. Through our expertise in the minerals sector, we can also actively promote a global minerals economy that is both efficient and socially and environmentally responsible, as well as generate new international business opportunities.”
Three strategic objectives and 12 action proposals related to four distinct themes have been defined to facilitate implementation of the minerals strategic vision.
- Promoting domestic growth and prosperity
- Solutions for global mineral chain challenges
- Mitigating environmental impact
The themes of the action proposals:
- Strengthening minerals policy
- Securing the supply of raw materials
- Reducing the environmental impact of the minerals sector and increasing its productivity
- Strengthening R&D capabilities and expertise
In September, the government unveiled proposed amendments to the Mining Act. It says the amendments will improve the opportunities of influence among local residents and increase business prospects and environmental considerations.
“The reform of the Mining Act is part of a larger package. We are in the middle of a major energy transition that aims to achieve a more sustainable future.
“We need critical minerals that can be processed into high-quality technological products. Improving self-sufficiency in minerals is a key objective both at national and European level,” Minister of Economic Affairs, Mika Lintilä, stated.
He said the proposal would improve local residents’ opportunities to exert influence and increase acceptance of mines. A prerequisite for granting a mining permit is a plan approved by the municipality.
“More consideration must also be given to other sources of livelihood in the area. It is proposed that the prerequisites for extending the validity of an exploration permit be tightened to strengthen the position of the property owner and to reduce the harm experienced by area residents,” he said.
In addition, the draft bill proposes that the right of access to information be improved by organizing public events annually. The proposed amendments to the regulation of reservations include a new tax-like fee for the reservation area and a shorter reservation period.
The minister claimed that although the changes will incur additional costs for mining operators, they may balance competition within the sector.
“Stricter regulation will reduce the number of unreliable operators in the sector, which also benefits those who comply with the rules. The reservation fee is estimated to discourage operators from reserving unnecessarily large exploration areas, which will improve the competitive position of other companies.”
In another significant change, the Finnish Ministry of Finance has also issued a draft government bill that proposes the implementation of royalty-type taxes on minerals extracted in the country. Two different types of tax levels are proposed for metallic and industrial minerals. The new law is proposed to enter into force in the beginning of 2024.
Royalties for metallic minerals
The draft government bill proposes a royalty of 0.6% to be levied on the taxable value of a listed group of mostly metallic minerals that will be limited to a list covering precious minerals such as platinum, palladium, gold and silver, base metals such as copper, nickel, cobalt, zinc, and lead, as well as iron, lithium, and uranium. In addition, sulphur is on the list as a non-metallic mineral.
Finish-headquartered legal specialists Borenius says the tax liability will concern mining companies that extract minerals from Finnish bedrock. The new legislation would apply to both existing mines and new mines.
Exploration would not fall under the scope of the new tax, as it is not subject to the same permits as actual mining activities and extraction of minerals. For example, the small amount of minerals acquired based on drilling or test mining in the exploration phase should not be taxable.