March/April 2010

The Finnish advantage

A promising balance of raw minerals and technological refinement

By J. Borsato

Mauri Pekkarinen, Finland’s minister of economic affairs

Finland, with a well established industrial infrastructure and a wealth of mineral resources, is a land of opportunity for Canadian mining expertise and capital, Mauri Pekkarinen, the country’s minister of economic affairs, told trade officials and industry leaders gathered in Toronto in February. Pekkarinen was among a series of Finnish and Canadian business and policy experts who spoke at the “Canada-Finland Mining Opportunities Seminar,” a platform for discussions on awareness and development in mineral exploration and mining in the country of 5.2 million people.

“There is a very positive attitude towards mineral exploration and development in Finland because so much of the land targeted for development is privately owned and in sparsely populated area,” explained Pekkarinen. He stressed that “a strong infrastructure, an educated and highly skilled workforce, and government policy focused on development and exploration of mineral wealth make Finland a mining-friendly nation.”

Because of the great scope and size of venture capital in Canada compared to Finland, Pekkarinen emphasized that Finnish partnerships with Canadian industry are an important part of mineral development. He also gave a nod to his nation’s burgeoning research and development industry. “As a global leader in industrial technology, there exist wonderful opportunities for Canadian companies to not only source new mine sites but also develop relationships with the very companies that contribute to their industrial processes.”

Investment in R&D was a key theme of the seminar. Dr. Pekka Nurmi, research director of the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK), highlighted some of the approximately 20 R&D projects Finland, along with other EU members, are actively involved in to provide expertise and technical information to both industry and policy-makers.

With its Fennoscandian Shield among the most promising mineral regions in Europe, Finland is hardly unknown to Canadian mining interests. Central Finland hosts Inmet Mining’s Pyhäsalmi project, an underground copper and zinc mine, and Agnico-Eagle’s Kittila open pit and underground operation in the country’s North is at the heart of one of the largest known gold deposits in Europe. Vancouver’s Cooper Minerals, recent acquisition of Finland’s Namura Finland Oy and all of its 34 mineral claim reservations, alongside a 50 per cent share in the Paukkajanvaara uranium project located in the Joensuu magistrate of eastern Finland, are just a few of the projects Canadian mining outfits have pursued in the country.

PDAC president Jon Baird, outlined the current projects undertaken by various mining companies in Finland and stressed the importance of gatherings such as this, sponsored by Miller Thomson, the Embassy of Finland and Finnish business association Finpro, to foster ties and mutual understanding of each nation’s approach to business.

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