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JUHANI ARTTO
HOMEPAGE 2013

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TRADE UNION NEWS
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Mining industry expects strong growth

Helsinki (26.03.2013 – Heikki Jokinen) The mining industry is increasingly becoming an important sector of the Finnish economy. This is felt also in the Metalworkers' Union where some 1,500 miners are organised.

Last year the Association of the Finnish Extractive Resources Industry (FinnMin) conducted a survey concerning future prospects among 58 companies working in mining. Among the survey’s findings it is estimated that within the next ten years, along with expansion, a total number of 5,600 people will be employed in mining - an increase of 150 per cent in comparison with the existing situation in the 48 companies that replied to the survey.

The greatest demand for mining workers will be in the northern parts of Finland. There are plans - but no decisions as of yet - to open some new mines there. And the big mines in northern Sweden are also planning to employ more people than today.

The Canadian think tank The Fraser Institute recently published its annual Survey of Mining Companies. The report ranked provinces, states and countries according to the extent that public policy factors encourage or discourage investment.

Finland is now the most attractive place in the world for investment, followed by Sweden, Alberta (Canada), New Brunswick (Canada) and Wyoming (United States). Data is collected from 742 mining companies around the world.

The ranking was based on aspects like uncertainty concerning the administration of current regulations, environmental regulations, legal system, taxation, infrastructure, labour and skills supply, political stability and corruption.

According to the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy plans to open or enlarge 10 - 15 major mines are currently under consideration. This would mean investments of up to 4 billion euro and construction work at these mines should proceed in the years 2013 - 2017.

However, one notable feature of the Finnish mining industry is the lack of domestic investments. Foreign ownership is the most common pattern. Canadian companies in particular have a strong foothold in the Finnish mining industry.

Records show that the Finnish mining business has enjoyed healthy profits overall in the last year with global demand for metals at an all time high. There is also a lively political debate on introducing a special tax for mines to keep bigger share of profits in Finland.

But the environmental effects of mining have also been the subject of much robust debate in Finland ever since the Talvivaara nickel mine experienced a leak at the mine's gypsum holding ponds late last year. The two-week run off of unprocessed wastewater in November into the surrounding area has caused serious concern. In March 2013 officials found a high level of uranium in a near-by small lake and the issue is now under investigation.