June 2019

Country snapshot: Finland

  • By Ryan Leaver, Marketing and Editorial Assistant, AusIMM

Perched at the extremes of Northern Europe, Finland is continually contributing to the resources industry and fast becoming a force in many aspects of modern life.

Known as one of the five traditional Nordic countries and located in the north of Europe, Finland is home to over 5 500 000 people. The primary language spoken is Finnish, with the second most common being Swedish. 

Finland is one of the countries best to view the famous Aurora Borealis from, with the Northern Lights being visible for around 200 nights a year in the Finnish Lapland. 

Bordering Sweden, Norway and Russia, Finland is made up predominately of forested land with a total of 75 per cent of the land being forestry. This equates to approximately 4.2 hectares of forest for every Finnish person. 

Overall, Finland has an extremely unique geography with over 188 000 lakes across its land, making it the country with the highest water-land mass ratio in the world. 

Finland’s large forest areas are extremely well kept and maintained in a sustainable manner, with the trees growing far outweighing those that are harvested each year.

Resources and mining

Finland has an impressive history when it comes to resources, partly due to the aforementioned vast forest lands. One of Finland’s top natural resources and exports comes from these forests, with softwood timber being the nation’s fourth largest export as recently as 2017. 

Mining has a relatively strong history in the Nordic region, having been carried out for many centuries in Finland and its surrounding countries. The industry has recently seen growth in Finland, partly due to the similarities in geological conditions that the nation has to strong mining countries such as Australia and Canada. 

These conditions are prosperous for both base and precious metals, with a variety often being sourced all around the country. Some of the most commonly mined minerals in Finland today include copper, nickel, zinc and gold. These can be found in varying regions, with over 40 active mines scattered across the country. 

In 2016, 8.5 tonnes of gold were extracted in Finland, the most in Europe (excluding Turkey). Finland is one of the most attractive mining countries in Europe, with Fraser Institute frequently ranking it in the top 10 mining regions in the world.  

In 2017, the Fraser Institute described Finland as the ‘most attractive jurisdiction in the world for mining investment’. These rankings are based on ‘geological attractiveness for minerals and metals and the extent to which government policies encourage or deter exploration and investment’. 

However, it is worth noting that Finland experienced limited prospecting up until the 1990s before foreign exploration and mining companies were first given the permission to conduct mining in the Nordic region.  

More information on the Mining Act and the rules and stipulations around foreign exploration in Finland can be found at www.euromines.org/system/files/publications/finland.pdf

Throughout the years, Finnish mining companies have also been responsible for many important METS innovations that have been used all over the world. These innovations include flash smelting of copper, advanced automatic pressure filters and multiple optimisation services. 

Finland is home to many well-known, large-scale mining and METS companies such as Outotec, Metso and Normet. There is also a large number of smaller companies based in the nation offering a variety of specialised services.

Advancing AI technologies

One way in which Finland is fast becoming a powerhouse is through artificial intelligence (AI). Two large forces in the fast-growing world of AI are China and the United States, who both have much broader resources than a small country such as Finland.

To combat this, Finland is attempting to outsmart these countries, in particular with the launch of its online training course ‘Elements of AI’. The course, which generally takes six weeks to complete, has now been completed by over 142 000 students from 110 different countries. 

One of the companies leading this AI push in Finland is tech giant Nokia. Nokia’s Chairman, Risto Siiliasmaa believes that ‘AI is going to have as big an impact on our society as electricity.’

This attitude is a common theme throughout Finland and with AI continually growing to new levels, including in the resources sector, we could see Finland becoming a more prominent world force in the coming years.

Finances and trade

According to the World Bank in 2017, Finland accounted for 0.4 per cent of the world economy, with a GDP valued at US$251.88 billion. The nation’s peak GDP was US$283.74 billion in 2008, with the Nordic nation continuing to recover from the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-08. 

2018 saw Finland contribute 0.4 per cent of all global exports, shipping US$76.1 billion worth of products around the world. Of these exports, around two-thirds were sent to fellow European nations, with Asia and North America being the next most common regions.

The top five countries that Finland exported goods to in 2018 were Germany (14.6 per cent of exports), Sweden
(9.4 per cent), the United States (6.4 per cent), the Netherlands (6.3 per cent) and China (5.3 per cent).  Finland currently has the 40th largest export economy in the world.

Finland has been a part of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade since 1949 and was subscribed to the European Free Trade Associations (first as an associate and later as a full member) up until 1995 when it joined the European Union.

Finland continues to have close ties to its fellow Nordic countries, with whom it shares a free labour market and participates in various economic, cultural and scientific projects.  These partnerships, coupled with Finland’s geography, stable and growing economy and growing resources reputation should see it in good stead not only in the minerals world but also in general for many years to come.

Share This Article