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The ore that was left in the ground

The discovery of ore in Kuervaara, by Lauri and Aino Friman from Kolari, was a historic moment for mining operations in Kolari. Rautaruukki began to show interest in the ore deposits in the region, and this was the beginning of a story that brought a railway, work, housing, and vitality to the municipality.

Iron, copper, and limestone have been mined in the Kolari region for several centuries. The oldest mine in the region, the iron mine in Juvakaisenmaa, was established as early as 1662.

Mining activities in Kolari began when Rautaruukki Oyj made the decision to set up a mine in 1969. The mine was opened in 1975, and later, towards the end of the 1970s, the operation was expanded north of the village of Hannukainen by opening the open pits of Laurinoja and Kuervaara.

Construction of a railway link from Kemi to Kolari began in the mid-60s, because even then it was known that the ore concentrate from Kolari would continue its journey to the world by train. Construction of the railway was a major undertaking and brought work for the people of Lapland for years.

The railway is still being used by masses of tourists and the forest industry.

Over the years, the total amount of iron ore mined from the open pit of Laurinoja was 3.26 million tons, and 1.1 million tons were mined from the Kuervaara open pit.

In 1985, Rautaruukki made a strategic decision to withdraw from the mining business, which also concerned Rautuvaara and Hannukainen. After this, Outokumpu Oyj continued mining, exctracting around 450,000 tons from the Laurinoja deposit from 1989 to 1990.

Exploration of the Hannukainen deposit was restarted in 2005. Northland Mines Oy was drawing up operational plans and environmental impact studies in preparation for a mining project, for which it completed a definitative feasibility study.

However, the mother company got into financial difficulties, and Northland Mines Oy closed after being declared bankruptcy at the end of 2014.

Hannukainen Mining Oy bought all the rights and exploration materials related to the project from the bankrupt estate of Northland Mines Oy in 2015.

The iron, copper, and gold deposits of the Hannukainen area will now be utilised domestically: in days gone by, high amounts of untapped mineral reserves were left in the ground.

The managing director of Vuoksenniska gave the order to start mining for iron in Kolari. After a few years, the operation failed due to factors such as transportation difficulties.

Aino and Lauri Friman sent their first ore sample to be examined by Suomen Malmi Oy in 1959.


Construction of a railway between Kaulinranta and Kolari, for the forthcoming iron transports, began in 1965. The railway was completed in 1966. Rautaruukki made the decision to set up a mine in 1969, beginning a golden era of construction.


Mining activities started on October 15, 1975. The first ore train left Rautuvaara on November 17, 1975.


The topping-out ceremonies of the copper concentration plant in Rautuvaara were held on February 5, 1982. At the same time, the topping- out ceremonies were held in Hannukainen for the buildings at the Laurinoja deposit. In 1985, Rautaruukki made a strategic decision to give up the mining operations in Rautuvaara and Hannukainen. The Rautuvaara mine was closed at the end of 1988.


Outokumpu Oyj mined the Laurinoja deposit between 1989 and 1990.


Northland Mines Oy initiated explorations of the Hannukainen deposit in 2005 and made preparations for the mining operations up until the permitting process until licensing. Northland Mines Oy closed down after being declared bankrupt at the end of 2014.


Hannukainen Mining Oy bought all the rights and exploration materials related to the project from the bankrupt estate of Northland Mines Oy in 2015.


The planning and permitting processes will last until 2022, when the decision to open the mine will possibly be taken.