Finland Table of Contents

Finland contained only limited mineral deposits, and it coninued to be only a modest producer of minerals. The country's most important deposits were located at Outokumpu in eastern Finland. Discovered in 1910, the Outokumpu area contained commercially exploitable deposits of copper, iron, sulfur, zinc, cobalt, nickel, gold, and silver. In 1953 prospectors discovered a major source of iron ore at Otanmaki in central Finland. Other sites yielded nonmetallic minerals, including pyrites and apatite (a low-grade phosphoric ore used for fertilizer production), and stone for building. The mineral industry employed more than 60,000 people, but only 500 of them were in mining and quarrying; the others worked in mineral processing.

The government intervened directly in the mineral sector. Under Finnish law, the Ministry of Trade and Industry controlled prospecting and mining rights. The ministry's Geological Survey dominated prospecting, and it had made most major mineral discoveries. The ministry controlled most production through joint-stock companies, in which the state owned most or all of the shares, but in which the management ran the companies much like private firms. The industry comprised two large, statecontrolled companies, the Outokumpu Group and Rautaruukki, and a number of smaller, generally private companies. The Outokumpu Group, by far the largest producer, operated the Outokumpu mines, as well as others producing cadmium, chromite, ferrochrome, mercury, pyrite, and zinc. The company also invested in foreign mines and produced mining equipment. Rautaruukki controlled the Otanmaki iron mine, other mines producing cobalt, quartz, and vanadium, and Finland's largest steel plant.

By the mid-1980s, Finland had exploited most of its limited mineral deposits and had to work hard to supply its processing industries. The Geological Survey had undertaken an extensive exploration program to find new resources. Finnish firms had purchased interests in mineral operations in other Scandinavian countries, and they had participated in joint ventures with Soviet enterprises to exploit the rich mineral deposits on the Kola Peninsula. The leading companies had also developed vertically integrated structures, investing in all stages of metal production from the design and production of mining equipment to metal processing. The Outokumpu Group, for example, was one of the few firms in the world that controlled all aspects of the production of stainless steel. Industry leaders hoped that, as mining output fell during the later years of the twentieth century, overseas investments and vertical integration would make it possible to maintain employment despite the exhaustion of domestic mineral resources.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress