Mining on state lands
Several mines and exploration projects are found on or close to lands managed by Metsähallitus, particularly in northern Finland. While Metsähallitus does not grant mining permits, we represent government interests related to state-owned land and water areas in mining matters; in other words, we issue statements on the impacts of exploration and mining activities on state-owned land. We also wish to be a reliable partner for exploration and mining companies in compliance with the Finnish legislation and minerals policy.
Metsähallitus does not have exploration or mining operations of its own, but we look out for business opportunities in this sector. They may include various land use agreements related to mining, supply of stone aggregates for the needs of mine construction and closure, wind power construction, and meeting the needs for ecological or social compensation caused by mining activities.
Minerals in great demand
Between 2010 and 2019, mining investments in Finland totalled EUR 3.2 billion, while investments in exploration totalled EUR 590 million in the same period. Most of the investments targeted Northern Finland and, in particular, Lapland. The effects of these investments also extend to state-owned lands.
Finland's Mineral Strategy
Finland’s mineral strategy, which was completed in 2010, defines a vision for 2050 as follows:
“Finland is a global leader in the sustainable utilisation of mineral resources and the minerals sector is one of the key foundations of the Finnish national economy.”
In minerals policy, the aim of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is to secure Finland’s raw material supply and ensure sustainable use of national resources, international competitiveness, responsible use of natural resources and vitality of Finnish regions.
Electric car manufacturing and the general electrification of society feed a constantly growing demand for batteries, while sustainability issues gain increasing importance. The EU’s Green Deal programme sets the expectation that responsibly produced raw materials should be used in Europe.
The greatest known reserves of battery minerals in the EU area are found in Finland. After China, Finland is the second largest exporter of enriched cobalt. Cobalt and a few other metals produced in Finland are on the EU’s critical metals list. This list contains the minerals which are extremely important for the European economy and whose availability is fraught with a high risk.
We participate in creating a responsible mining culture in Finland
Finland is an unusual mining country also in the sense that we have significant activities and expertise covering the entire value chain of many metals from exploration to metal processing and technology.
A domestic mining industry improves our security of supply regarding metal processing and the use of metals essential for the functioning of society. Ensuring that regional economies are as structurally diverse as possible and that different industries can operate together is vital.
Our task is to try and reconcile different forms of land use on state-owned land. For our part, we wish to enable the sustainable operation of mines, which create many jobs regionally, and to help mitigate climate change and improve Finland’s security of supply.
Environmental concerns are legitimate, however. This is why we carefully weigh various environmental impacts and effects on biodiversity when issuing statements on such matters as mining permit applications, environmental impact assessments, applications for environmental and water management permits and the zoning of mines.
We joined the Network for Sustainable Mining
In 2019, we joined the Network for Sustainable Mining, which develops concrete operating models, solutions and practices for more responsible and sustainable mining activities and improved exploration processes in Finland.
This network and Metsähallitus have as the common goal developing Finland into a pioneering country of sustainable mining, with an industry that takes due account of natural values, the cultural and social environment, and other industries and businesses.
In addition to the mining industry and municipalities, the network members include the Finnish Reindeer Herders’ Association, the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation and WWF.
Tukes permit required for exploration
The number of hectares on which exploration takes place is showing a strong growth, especially in Lapland. For exploration on state-owned land, a permit issued by the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) is required. Tukes requests a statement from Metsähallitus on the matter. Metsähallitus issues hundreds of statements on exploration projects every year. In these statements, a broad range of different land use needs is taken into account. Metsähallitus only grants landowner’s permits in very exceptional cases.
A permit granted by Tukes is also required for gold panning on state land, whereas on privately owned land, the landowner’s permit is sufficient.
Useful further information
- Exploration on state land (tukes.fi)
- Instructions for the payment of compensation referred to in the Mining Act (kaivannaiset.fi)
- Finland’s Mineral Strategy (tem.fi)
- European Commission: Critical raw materials (ec.europa.eu)
- Critical materials website of the National Emergency Supply Agency (kriittisetmateriaalit.fi; in Finnish)
Jenni will help you with matters related to mines, Heikki with ore exploration and questions related to gold panning.