Research in the mineral sector is active and international

Appreciation of expertise in our most important area of effectiveness remained at a good level in the report year. An indication of this is active jointly funded research activities and good feedback from interest groups.

In accordance with our performance agreement’s effectiveness objectives, our operations aim at promoting responsible raw material and energy supply and well-balanced regional development. The mining industry’s new research strategy related to the plan of action for sustainable extractive industry was finished in the GTK’s guidance. GTK also became more active in societal communication (e.g. portal and the SAM project).

Strengthening of international network proceeded significantly and we were able to increase research funding despite the tough competition for it. On the other hand, due to the weak economic situation in the sector and plummeting metal prices, the customer activity of mineral exploration companies and investors in Finland was very low.

GTK had a significant part in the development of the Mine EIA guide. Our cooperation with The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) concentrated in improving the availability of ore material, as agreed in the cooperation group.

Science through networking

We invested in programmes that promote leadership in sustainable mining industry. We acted as a core partner in a strong EIT Raw Materials consortium that was founded in early 2015. It consists of over 100 actors in the industrial sector, universities and research institutes.

GTK’s Green Mining research programme (the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation TEKES) remained active and our project portfolio is significant, covering the entire life cycle of mining operations. During the report year, we participated in a total of 12 projects.

The Minerals4EU project has produced a information product that meets the requirements of the international INSPIRE requirements. We also had moderate success with the mineral sector project applications submitted to the Academy of Finland.

We continued to renew our operating model concerning research on mineral resources. The overall evaluation if Finland’s nickel, zinc, gold and phosphorus resources and the summary of Ostrobothnia’s lithium survey were completed and indicated good potential. Phosphorus is a good example: EU’s phosphorous resources are small and the EU is dependent on imported phosphorus (over 90 per cent). Within the EU, Finland is the only country producing phosphorus and, according to our survey, Finland has large phosphorus resources which amount to approximately 2.4 billion tons in total.

Despite the potential and research results, investor activity has been at an all-time low due to the weak economic situation in the sector and plummeting metal prices. This was also reflected in the demand for commercial services required by prospecting and mining companies.

In the report year, enrichment solutions were created for new Finnish and foreign ore types. These were carried out mainly by GTK Mintec as commercial commissions.

Mining operations in Finland

  2015 2014 Change
The number of mines (that have reported excavation) 45 40 +13%
Investments in mining (€ million) 157 190 –17%
Actual mining (Mt) 32.9 29.5 +12%
Total excavation (Mt) 89.2 74.8 +19%

Source: Tukes

Ore deposits discovered by GTK that have led to mining operations