Business owner Mauri Kuru looks over the Tunturintie road at the planned mine site. Business owners in the tourism sector in Ylläs, Lapland, are concerned that the mine planned in the region will discolour the snow and sully the image of Lapland tourism. Business owner Mauri Kuru says that the Swiss travel agency Kontiki has already threatened to stop organising tours to Ylläs, if the plan is carried out.

According to the plan, the roughly 230-metre deep, 2.5-kilometre long and 1.8-kilometre wide Hannukainen open quarry would be opened roughly eight kilometres from the resort area Ylläs, behind the Kuertunturi fell.

The iron, copper and gold ore extracted at the quarry would be transported on a long conveyor system to Rautuvaara for enrichment. In Rautuvaara, a new larger tailings pond would be built.

The Hannukainen mine is currently scheduled for inauguration in 2016 while blasting is set to begin in 2018, if Northland Mines is granted an environmental permit by the Regional State Administrative Agency and a building permit by the town of Kolari.

Kolari has designated an area for mining operations in its zoning plan.

The mining company is expected to file its application for an environmental permit next autumn. Its parent company Northland Resources has already launched operations at an iron mine in Tapuli, Sweden, which is part of the iron ore deposit that extends from Kiruna to Hannukainen.

The Lapland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment will conduct an assessment on the impact of the project on the Tornionjoki-Muonionjoki Natura area.

“Combining tourism and the mine is difficult, but not an impossible task. You do have to consider the roughly 360 new jobs the mine would create,” views Kyösti Tornberg, the mayor of Kolari.

Toivo Qvist, the manager of the hotel Ylläshumina, is afraid that the mine will destroy his life's work.

“Tourists often admire the untouched nature of Lapland. The sounds of blasting, lights and dust scattered on the snow collide with that,” he argues.

At present, over 5,000 people have signed a petition to suspend the mining project. In a survey conducted by the Finnish Forest Research Institute, 70 per cent of tourists viewed that the mine would have an adverse effect on the image of Ylläs.

Jari Väisänen, the managing director of the Finnish operations of Northland Resources, insists that the claims about the dust pollution are exaggerated. “We modelled the dispersion of dust for the environmental impact assessment. The dust will not disperse beyond the shelter-belt,” he affirms.

Tapio Mainio – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Jaakko Heikkilä