Mineral exploration represents a scientific research effort that continues for decades. At the moment, exploration in Finland is being carried out by 50 companies operating primarily with foreign financing. Money for this research frequently comes from outside the area of the European Union.
Persons in Finland, who conduct exploration are mainly natural scientists. In addition, spatial data professionals, research assistants and, of course, drillers are required, each of whom obtain data for research.
Officials are also needed, since every exploration permit requires administrative work. Every exploration permit decision costs the applicant thousands of euros.
A disappointment for one a stroke of luck for another?
Locating enriched mineralisation in the bedrock requires precise localisation. In plain English, an “ore body” means economically valuable ore.
However, locating an ore body often results in disappointment for an optimistic mineral exploration company. “A pessimist is never disappointed” is, to my knowledge, not a familiar saying amongst prospectors. The same site will be explored a few years later with the thought that “maybe, just maybe, something was left unnoticed”. Well, nothing is ever black and white – one person’s disappointment can be another person’s stroke of luck. The companies report on the research they have carried out on an annual basis to the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes).
In the end, mining exploration ends either with the desired result – the discovery of ore – or statistically that, out of about 999 times out of a thousand, the result is that the site concerned does not yield valuable ore.
The final report is the stepping stone for the next project
The next step is the After-care measures. The permit holder should submit a final report for exploration project that may have lasted 15 years. This final report represents public information about the Finnish bedrock, and it may be of advantage for all scientific investigation along the lines of planned land use. In other words, it is not just a new search for ore.
Frequently, however, the report tainted with disappointment acts as a foundation for the next exploration project, where the minerals sought may differ from the previous project.
“Maybe they missed something,” the geologist studying the report considers. Or then it is a matter of an entirely new approach or research technique that the previous permit holder (poor fellow) never heard about. 10–15 years can easily fly by. On the geological timeline, this is merely a drop in the ocean, but in the life or a human being it can feel like an interminably long stretch of time – like having to wait before you can drive a car.
Senior Officer, Mining
The author has worked in geological prospecting at Tukes for six years and prior to this at GTK for 10 years.
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