The Kiruna mine is the world’s largest and most modern underground iron ore mine, operated by LKAB.
Location: Kiruna, Swedish Lapland (Northern Sweden).
Photo: Svenska Institutet
Mining represents the very spine of Swedish industry. Sweden is the largest producer of iron ore; the second largest producer of silver, gold, lead and zinc; as well as the third largest producer of copper. The largest Swedish mining companies today are LKAB and Boliden.
Sweden’s vast experience within the mining industry dates back to the 9th century when organized mining was first initiated. This inevitably led to the birth of the first public company in the world called STORA Kopparberg which was established in the 13th century. The 80s-90s was a period of low activity due to a slump in the world market, with just LKAB, Boliden, and Lundin Mining Zinkgruvan remaining in operation. In 1992, SGU, the Geological Survey of Sweden, halted their exploration activities in response to a government decision and altered their focus to assist exploration companies with information, drill cores, etc. The government released a new mining legislation the same year in which they renounced their right to earth minerals and gave foreign companies equal rights as domestic firms to foster healthy competition, sharing of new ideas, and efficient allocation of resources.
The industry picked up speed again in the early 2000s with explorers coming in from Canada and Australia leading up to some 20 foreign actors in the Swedish market today. Exploration expenditure reached a record high in 2013 of 100 MUSD with the area still regarded as largely underexplored due to the immensity of the mineral-rich Fennoscandian shield. Assisting the sector is an excellent infrastructure with the network of railroads, roads, ports, power and water supply efficiently connecting all areas.
Advanced equipment manufactured by Swedish companies such as Atlas Copco, Sandvik, ABB, Volvo, and Outokumpo are internationally sought for. LKAB runs a world class pellet production using the only testing blast furnace in the world and are considered one of the most efficient, automated and profitable underground mining equipment manufacturers.
Sweden has a strict, but transparent and predictable environmental code. Permitting entities are being strengthened to meet the increasing number of applications and keep handling-time short. Taxes are competitive with the corporate profit tax rate at 22% and royalties at just 0.2%. Losses can be carried forward and used against future profits.
Foreign exploration companies are attracted by the low-risk, the transparent regulations, the extensive geological database, Sweden’s leading role in metallurgical R&D, efficiency in the value chain, as well as the nearby EU market.