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Juomasuo mining project

Map of the Northern Kuusamo

Light green square – National Park
Green square – (other) Protected area
Aniline – Mining district
Red square – Mining permit, valid
Rose – Mining permit, application
Pink – Mining district, reserved
Blue – Area for tourism, mining-free
Red borders – Rural development area
Yellow borders – Holiday accommodations
Yellow – Ruka tourist center
Brown – Village / Rural areas

In 2012 an old mining project was revived by a company called « Dragon Mining Oy ». Starting its activity and a process to estimate environmental impact, a mutual concern arose among the local inhabitants, holiday home owners, tourists and tourism entrepreneurs whose activities depend on nature.

What would be the impact of a mining project on the environment, economic life and the employment opportunities ? How would mining activities damage Kuusamo’s wilderness landscape, fauna and flora, permanent inhabitants’ or holiday home occupants’ life? Simply – what would be the negative and positive aspects, who would be responsible for taking the risks ?

It was essential to understand mining activities considerable and irrevocable impact on region’s nature, even if mining life cycle is always time limited. Accordingly, strongly nature based economic activities depend on clean nature, eco-friendly reputation, use of renewable natural resources and their sustainability for future generations.

Why are we against Juomasuo mining project ?

Economic structure in Kuusamo is diversified and evolving. Economically the most important industries are forestry, tourism, agriculture, fishery, reindeer husbandry and wood processing. These branches with their ecosystems lean on Kuusamo’s pure air, clean waters and good reputation. Tourism employs directly more than 600 persons in the private sector, indirect influence is even more considerable as many of the working places are for year-round employment.

Kitkajoki’s transfering from a wilderness landscape into an industrial zone by mining activities is a huge and real risk. Emissions caused by mining activities would happen to the detriment of economic branches depending on the nature. It would mean less competitiveness, less tourism and consequently a diminution of working opportunities.

According to conducted studies by ”Metla”, (2014) this mining project would have had a negative effect on Kuusamo’s regional economic, not to mention environmental risks. Life cycle of Juomasuo mining was estimated to 10 years, employment in tourism industry diminishing to -1.855 man-years and tax revenue reduced to -15,9 million euros.

The mining district of Juomasuo is situated on a « mining-free zone «  defined by the Kuusamo Town Council. According to its regional land-use plan, this zone is on an area designed for tourism and outdoor activivities. It is close to the river Kitkajoki which begins from the lake Kitkajärvi and flows to the river Oulankajoki. Kitkajoki maintains a valuable biodiversity and is protected by the law since 1987. Kitkajoki and Oulankajoki both flow through national parks. Kitkajärvi is not only the biggest natural source of water in Europe, but also lies partly on this very same zone defined mining-free.

Chronological history of Juomasuo and Latitude 66 Cobalt Oy

Juomasuo mining district rights had been granted to Finnish «Outokumpu Oy » – mining company in 1993, which sold its right to an Australian mining company called « Polar Mining Oy in 2003. This company later changed its name to « Dragon Mining Oy ». Under this new name, in 2012 the company activated its operations with aim to start gold mining activity in Juomasuo and in two other near by mining districts of Meurastuksenaho and Sivakkaharju: these two were requested to be closed in 2012 by Kuusamo Town Council following the citizen initiative signed by 265 citizens.

In 2015, Juomasuo mining district rights were transferred to a new mining company, « Kuusamo Gold Oy ». In 2016 this company was sold to an Australian « Nero Projects Australia Ltd » which then on continued the activity under the name «  Latitude 66 Cobalt Oy ». Since 2017 the company owns the mining district rights to Juomasuo. When purchasing the rights, the company commisioned a citizen poll in order to determine inhabitants’ point of view on Juomasuo mining project: a majority of the persons consulted were against and only 28 % approved it. This mining project do not have a social license.

Latitude 66 Cobalt Oy has submitted applications for an extension to Juomasuo district mining rights 3 times, last one in 2019. Tukes (the Finnish Safety and Chemicals agency) granted an extension for a period of 5 years in April 2022.

Pro Kuusamo Ry filed an administrative appeal with Tukes on this very decision in June 2022. According to company’s web site information, the goal is cobalt mining in order to develop Finnish cobalt cluster to meet the ”huge needs ” of cobalt in electric car batteries.

In May 2022 Pro Kuusamo Ry filed a complaint with Tukes due to exploration applications made by Latitude 66 Cobalt Oy. The company had submitted applications for ore prospecting permits in 6 different locations. Each one of them is situated on the lake Kitkajärvi drainage bassin areas of Kuusamo and Posio communes.

Latitude 66 Cobalt Oy has furthermore submitted significant reservation notifications, not only in Kuusamo and neigbouring Posio, but also for different vaste areas in Lapland. Applications concern a total surface area of app. 10.000 km2, which is about twice the size of the whole Kuusamo area.

In August 2021 Latitude 66 Cobalt Oy announced an agreement made with in Switzerland registered company, « Sunmirror AG, Luxembourg «. According to this contract Sunmirror AG purchases Latitude 66 Oy from its parent company, « Latitude 66 Cobalt, Australia » in cash at a price of 45 million euros.

This kind of enterprise acquisitions are made by multinational companies to which motivations are purely of financial interest. A way to get incomes easily by transfering mining district rights between each other. These companies are not involved in local life of a country in which the mining rights are granted. Applications for mining reservation notifications are not made with taking in consideration local circumstances and inhabitant’s needs. Environmental degradation due to irresponsible mining activities is irreversible with severe consequences to human health.

… about mining and Juomasuo

Juomasuo Mining district is situated next to Käylä Village. River Kitkajoki flows through this village of app. 600 permament inhabitants, a great number of year round visitors and of second home owners. Kitkajoki is 35 km long and joins the river Oulankajoki in the Oulanka National Park. Out of 135 kms long river Oulankajoki 107 kms runs through Finland.

Kitkajoki and Oulankajoki are both extremely important to local economic livelihood. Since generations professional fishermen earn their living thanks to the rivers’ pure, unpolluted water and biodiversity. One of local sources of income, also of a great importance, comes from forests.

Private persons and enterprises in alimentary field take profit on picking up forest berriers, vital condition for wildlife and natural pastures for semi-domisticated reindeer herds. Obviously, forests are a rerequisite for forestry survival. Tourism is one of the most important year-round sources of income. A variety of regional possibilities for skiing, hiking, camping and canoeing is impressive. Latitude 66 Cobalt Oy refers to Juomasuo as un important mining project «  due to a huge demand in car batteries industry «. To extract cobalt is difficult as it can be quite deep underground and difficult to find. Emissions liberated during cobalt extraction contains cancer- causing and radioactive particules. Cobalt is also a subject to ethical concern. It is less and less necessary to car battery industry as new substitute technogies are constantly being developed. ( For example, half of « Tesla « -vehicles are already equipped with cobalt-free iron phosphate batteries.) But, Latitude 66 Cobalt is very much aware of the possibilities to extract other valuable minerals found in the North of Finlande. For example, could there be a hidden reason to this company to continue the exploitation of Juomasuo ?

Mining activities contribute to surface and groundwater pollution, erosion and sedimentation. Erosion on sandy ground surface filters wastewaters into groundwaters. Sandy river bottoms turn into more acid as the ground minerals get in touch with oxygen and rain water. Polluted waters and environmental damages are a real threat to the whole nutrition chain, from berries to animals and finally to humans. Negative consequences on wildderness landscape and human being’s health are unavoidable and often irreversible.