The Soki mine in northern Finland could produce nearly 10% of rare earth elements demand in Europe.
Finland’s Parliament passed an overhaul of its mining law to better protect the environment and safeguard national production of minerals amid surging demand.
The new bill, approved on Monday, gives greater control to local residents in permissioning of new mining areas, aims to increase sustainability in the industry and evens the playing field for companies. Stricter regulation and higher fees are expected to help weed out unreliable operators and benefit those who comply with the rules, the government has estimated.
Finland is emerging as a key mining and processing hub for battery metals with more than €6-billion in investments already planned, according to a new industry lobby group formed in January. Investors include BASF and Trafigura Group, which source nickel and cobalt chemicals from the Nordic country. In 2021, the government launched a national battery strategy, aiming to attract new projects in raw materials.
The need to reform the law arose as Finland has to ensure it can produce minerals needed when societies electrify, as well as to improve the level of environmental protections, Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, head of the commerce committee at the legislature, said in a debate in parliament. The mining industry is also vital for security of supply of raw materials, she added.
Last week, the state-owned Finnish Minerals Group said its Sokli mine in northern Finland could produce nearly 10% of rare earth elements needed in Europe annually to make permanent magnets, which are used in electric cars, wind turbines, and solar panels, according to preliminary findings.