Mining and Tourism, a win-win situation

Today Swedish mining industry is booming with record of investments in exploration, expansion in existing mines, new mines opening and several new mines in the pipe. Leading technology and high performance in operation and plenty of jobs, based on international demand, geology rich in valuable mineralisation’s, a developed infrastructure, effective mining inspectorate and fairly balanced laws executed in environmental courts, boosts the mining industry as a motor of growth.

Around 100 companies and 50 private persons are exploring on 1 100 exploration permits. Two new mining concessions where granted 2011. In Fraser Institutes ranking of mining countries, Sweden is in the group of most preferred countries close to Finland, Greenland, Botswana and Canada. 

Sweden is already a prominent mining country in Europe with relatively big share of ore production, especially in iron with 90 % of EU 27.

Mining companies has as demanding customers in co-operation with capable manufacturers of equipment, over the years developed a very strong cluster for development together with academia, especially the Technical University of LuleĂĄ. Just to mention that the two companies Atlas Copco and Sandvik holds about 60 % of the markets for underground mining equipment.

In 2012 SveMin has developed a vision for growth aiming at 2025. It concludes that the mining industry has the potential to expand production three times and double the work force, including directly employed, contractors and indirect effects. This would help out in the unemployment among young people and the investments strongly support the Swedish economy. To reach this vision, five initiatives have to be taken:

1) Increase supply of competence and make mining regions attractive.

2) Supply the transport demand of the mining industry, especially rail roads.

3) Increase discipline in the process of environmental permitting to make them much more foreseeable in time.

4) Ensure finance of RDI to maintain and develop the stronghold of competitiveness along the whole value chain from exploration to closing of mine sites, efficient resource use and sustainable development.

5) Ensure continues supply of energy at affordable prices, including natural gas.

Examples of tourism and historic mining

Mining has an old history in Sweden as in most European mining countries. There are maybe 10 000 old mining sites only in the central part. Mostly very small, but some big that where dominant in their time, like the world heritage Falun Copper Mine and the Sala Silver Mine. In both cities the mines are the main attraction and in both you can make a promenade in some mined areas underground. In Sala a lot of emphasis has been put in to develop the experience of being underground with beautifully coloured lightning in dining areas and a “Mine Suit” with double bed and everything you expect in an exclusive hotel room.

Another type of attraction is the Dalhalla “Opera Quarry”, where a lime quarry has been turned into a magnificent out door opera with a small lake surrounding the scene.

The Swedish Geological Survey has initiated a competition to elect the most interesting geological site. The purpose is to enhance the public interest in geology. This year a sand stone mine that produced millstones was the winner. This is today an inviting destination, where a non-profit organisation is guiding and taking care of visitors. You can also take a walk in the surrounding pristine nature.

Examples of tourism and active mining

In Kiruna LKAB is running one of the biggest underground operations producing the most energy efficient iron ore pellets in the world. The production is expanding; the ore is stretching in under parts of the city that has to be moved, so a close co-operation with the municipality is a necessity.

Being in a very remote location the company did from the start build the town and has over the years kept on supporting the infrastructure of society and business. In each city of Kiruna and Gällivare local development companies co-operate with other actors to develop new businesses. A venture capital company is engaging in operations like the word famous ICEHOTEL. Together these efforts have managed to bring about flight connections to the national network as well as to Copenhagen during the tourist season. Kiruna has one million visitors every year and 540 000 guest nights. The nearby mountains and wilderness are welcoming both national and international guests.

The tourist company Visit Kiruna Lapland is running the tourist office, the LKAB information centre and tours to the LKAB Visitor Mine, which has 30 000 visitors each year.

The municipality Storuman is situated in the northern inland of Sweden close to the mountain range on the border to Norway. The number of inhabitants has decreased with 25 % since 1980 and face out has been the order of the day. But with the boom in mining times are changing to development and expansion and the municipality is preparing by investigating three scenarios. The most advanced scenario presents investments of totally 36 billion SEK, with 12 on mining at five different mine sites, 19 in 500 wind power towers and 3 billion in tourism with 3 500 new beds.

The biggest tourist attraction is the downhill and cross country skiing in Tärnaby, the birthplace of sport stars as Anja Pärsson and Ingemar Stenmark. The mining company Nickel Mountain is planning to open a big mine 45 km from Tärnaby and has ordered a deepening socio-economic study planning to develop Tärnaby to the housing area for the miners and their families. This will create the win-win situation for both businesses to create services, transport, etc. to the benefit of all inhabitants and the companies.

Tomas From, SveMin, Swedish Association of Mining, Mineral and Metal Producers