The Central Lapland Greenstone Belt is relatively underexplored, offering exploration potential in the form of orogenic gold deposits.
Finland’s underexplored Central Lapland Greenstone Belt hosts only one major gold mine. However, its attractive operating environment and exploration potential have created interest from major and junior resource companies alike.
Finland’s first gold rush began in the 1870s, when gold nuggets were found in the vicinity of the Ivalojoki River, prompting the Lapland gold rush. According to Visit Finland, thousands of kilograms of gold have been retrieved from the river and surrounding rock. However, the lack of record-keeping at the time has erased the potential for more accurate estimates.
Today, most mining activity in Finland is focused on precious metals such as gold, platinum group metals, base metals, diamonds and industrial minerals. The Nordic country has become known for its attractive operating environment for exploration and mining in addition to its potential for new discoveries. Despite Finland’s long history of mining, the country remains largely unexplored while exhibiting great geological potential, particularly when it comes to the yellow metal.
Mining in Finland
Mining in Finland has accelerated, particularly over the last two decades. According to analysts at CEIC Data, Finland’s mineral production reached an all-time low of 1.76 million metric tons per year in 2009 but has since grown to a peak of 2.36 million metric tons in 2018.
Finland’s rapidly growing mining sector has sparked a public debate over concerns about its impact on the environment and northern communities. As such, public officials enacted a new mineral strategy to address these worries with three main objectives: focusing on domestic growth, developing solutions for global resource supply chain challenges and reducing environmental impact. In addition, “everyman’s right” protections enable legal public access to all land, allowing exploration companies to conduct geological mapping and limited sampling easily under the condition that no damage is done to the property or environment.
Finland’s strong and transparent mining policies and permitting systems have helped the country become a global leader in the international mining community. The nation was ranked as the second-friendliest mining jurisdiction in terms of investment attractiveness according to the Fraser Institute’s 2019 Annual Survey of Mining Companies, which takes into account mineral and policy perception.
Central Lapland Greenstone Belt mineralization
In Northern Finland lies the Central Lapland Greenstone Belt (CLGB), which is contained within a Paleoproterozoic-aged belt of rocks. While the CLGB is largely underexplored, it is home to Agnico Eagle’s Kittilä underground gold mine, which is the largest gold producing deposit in Europe, yielding 175,000 ounces of gold per year.
Gold deposits in the CLGB are divided into three categories: orogenic gold deposits, iron-oxide-copper-gold deposits and placer gold. Over the last 30 years, exploration of the CLGB has yielded roughly 13 deposits with a combined nine million ounces of gold resources. In comparison to similar trends of mineralization around the world such as the Abitibi Greenstone Belt, which has yielded approximately 200 million ounces, the CLGB appears relatively immature as a gold mining region. Given its broad geological similarities to the Abitibi, this speaks to its potential for additional discoveries.
Carl Löfberg, co-founder and CEO of FireFox Gold (TSXV:FFOX,FWB:A2PDU7), is optimistic regarding the exploration potential of the CLGB due to its relative size. “It is highly unlikely that the CLGB would host only one major gold mine when comparing it to other comparable greenstone belts worldwide,” Löfberg said. “This is most likely due to a lack of drilling. As the belt matures, we would expect gold discovery to catch up to Canada’s Abitibi terrane and other important greenstone belts in West Africa and Australia.”
FireFox Gold’s flagship property is the Jeesiö gold project, which covers approximately 279 square kilometers of the CLGB and is positioned along a key regional structure known as the Sirkka Shear Zone. This structure controls the location of most of the orogenic gold deposits in the CLGB, and segments of it are interpreted to cross the Jeesiö property.
Companies exploring the Central Lapland Greenstone Belt
There are a small number of companies actively exploring the CLGB, including FireFox Gold, Aurion Resources (TSXV:AU,OTCQX:AIRRF), Rupert Resources (TSX:RUP), Agnico Eagle Mines (NYSE:AEM,TSX:AEM), Kinross Gold (TSX:K,NYSE:KGC) and B2Gold (TSX:BTO,NYSEAMERICAN:BTG).
Like Firefox, Aurion Resources has begun targeting the CLGB and holds mineral tenements that span nearly 80,000 hectares. Its primary assets include the Risti and Launi Projects, which in total cover over 30,000 hectares of the region. The Pahtavaara project, which Rupert Resources acquired in 2016, had over 2 million tonnes of ore mined in its first five years of operation from three open pits. The company conducted a re-appraisal of the project’s regional geological setting in 2018, demonstrating that the mine had a much larger footprint — up to 1,500 meters strike and 500 meters in width — than previously anticipated.
While there are several companies dipping their toes in the CLGB region, FireFox Gold controls over 700 square kilometers of highly prospective sections of the belt. In addition to the Jeesiö project, the company also owns the Sarvi property, less than 5 km from Rupert’s recent Area 1 gold discovery zone. Patrick Highsmith, co-founder and chairman of FireFox, believes the area offers significant exploration potential due to the wealth of data available. “Given the world-leading technical databases built by the Geological Survey of Finland combined with the surge of new cutting-edge exploration data from FireFox and our peers, we believe significant new gold discoveries are imminent in Northern Finland,” Highsmith said.
The Central Lapland Greenstone Belt is a vastly underexplored region when compared to similar districts like Canada’s Abitibi Greenstone Belt. As a global leader in public geoscience and online databases, Finland offers significant exploration benefits beyond its rich mineralization. Due to its safety, stability and positive exploration environment, a number of resource companies have begun to pay special attention to Finland in search of a modern-day gold rush.
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