Boliden expands its exploration portfolio

Boliden’s future is strongly linked to our ability to secure new discoveries.

Exploration is the first step in Boliden’s value chain. This means that a long-term consistent exploration level is crucial in order to achieve our strategic goals and consequently securing our future.

Boliden’s strategic goals for exploration are to:

  • Add mineral resources that will enable each mining area to secure >10 years of ore production and provide possibilities for organic growth.
  • Contribute to organic growth in mining production by building up and monitoring a project portfolio comprising of in-house and external projects.

Identify new areas for field exploration and joint venture opportunities outside of our existing main areas.

In order to achieve this, Boliden has continued to focus on “close-by existing mine” exploration in Sweden and in Ireland, which for example has lead to the opening of the Kankberg mine, the discovery of the new large low-grade copper deposit Laver and the two large expansions of Garpenberg and Aitik. The increased exploration activities during the last decade have resulted in a substantial addition of mineral resources and mineral reserves. Most of our areas show a positive trend, and we still see a great potential for further discoveries. In October 2014 Boliden acquired the Kylylahti mine and exploration licenses in Finland which holds great potential to add new resources, both near mine and in field.

The Boliden area

The exploration results in the Boliden area have gradually increased over the last seven years. The mineral reserves are still lower than desirable and there are continued efforts in both near mine and field exploration. Although Boliden has been exploring in the area since about 1915, we still see great potential here. The newly opened Kankberg mine added Tellurium (Te) as a new metal that Boliden produces.

Aitik and Norrbotten

The mineral resources in Aitik have increased as a result of successful exploration and increased metal prices. The Aitik deposit is evidence that low-grade copper deposits with large tonnage exists in Norrbotten. Current ore reserves stands at 1085 Mt grading 0.22 % Cu and 0.14 ppm Au. Our exploration in Laver (100 km north of Boliden) has proved that Aitik is not the only deposit of this kind. We have also seen promising exploration results from other targets in Norrbotten.
Our long term target is to support the Aitik mill with enough mineral resources for the Aitik 45 Mtpa expansion, but also define possible new mining areas.

Garpenberg and Bergslagen

In the last years, the mineral resources and mineral reserves in this area have increased dramatically and the near mine exploration has made the Garpenberg expansion possible. The mine will be able to produce at least 2.5 Mtpa of ore.
There is also field exploration ongoing in Bergslagen and the acquired knowledge now starts to generate new potential target areas. The exploration in the region indicates great potential for several different mineralization types, containing zinc, lead, silver and copper as the main metals of economic interest.

Rockliden

Rockliden is a classical massive sulphide polymetallic deposit similar to what we find in the Boliden area and was discovered by Boliden in the beginning of 1980’s. From a global perspective, we know that these kinds of deposits rarely occur alone. In 2007, exploration restarted and the results are positive. We currently have a mineral resource at 10 Mt and a geological potential down to 900 m depth in Rockliden. However, the metallurgical problems, especially with antimony, require specific process research and development.

Tara and Ireland

In Ireland, during the last ten years, the strategy has been to focus on near mine exploration and finding new zinc and lead orebodies in our extensive ground holding. At Tara this is particularly important since mineral reserves and resources have decreased slightly over the last few years. During 2011 and 2012 extensive seismic surveys have been performed close to the mine site. The seismic surveys have proven to be extremely useful and in 2013 and 2014 we focused on drilling the defined targets.

Finland

In October 2014 Boliden finalized the acquisition of the Kylylahti mine and Luikonlahti mill from Altona Mining in the Outukompu field in eastern Finland. Work has now started to expand our exploration activities into Finland, and the first focus will be to increase ore reserves to 10 years of production. Exploration efforts in the area have been limited since the 1980s. The potential for new discoveries below 400 m depth have not been explored in any detail.

Jan Moström
President Boliden Mines

Figure 1: Boliden’s investment in exploration 2004-2013 and number of meters drilled

Figure 2: Exploration areas