Current Status of Applied Geochemistry Research in Northern Europe

November 11, 2012. Report from Northern Europe: Pertti Sarala

The mineral exploration and mining boom continues to be strong in Fennoscandia. Numerous companies (both foreign and local) are working in the region looking for not only gold, PGE and base metal deposits that used to be the main targets, but also for so-called high technology elements such as In, Li, the REE, Sc and Y. A primary reason for the broader focus on a wider range of elements and metals is the mineral strategy of European Union that emphasizes increased European self-sufficiency and import independence of strategic metals.

One of the key characteristics of current mineral exploration in Fennoscandia is the application of applied geochemistry. Much of the exploration is in glaciated terrains and till geochemistry is still considered the most beneficial tool for tracing potential source rocks for target metals and minerals. Regional and target-scale till geochemical data are the basic datasets for exploration, and new sampling projects are on-going for mapping new areas or condensing older datasets. For example, in Sweden the SGU has launched a new regional till geochemical mapping project focusing on the northern part of the country.

Recently, the use of portable XRF analyzers has increased significantly in mineral exploration. The primary uses of pXRF analyzers are in bedrock mapping and boulder prospecting. GTK has also done testing for the use of pXRF on till and pre-glacial weathered bedrock samples in exploration, and the results seem to be promising.

Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation -  launched a year ago a new five year program called Green Mining (2011-2016; .The programme creates new business that requires new, specialised expertise alongside the growing field of traditional mining. The central content of the programme consists of two thematic areas: 1) Intelligent and minimum-impact mines, and 2) New mineral resources. The programme offers funding for projects within the topic of the programme, networking events and service expertise processes as well as the promotion of international cooperation. Advances are also being looked for in applied geochemical and indicator mineral analysis and sampling methods in glaciated terrains.