Greener mining: GTK Mintec's new research facility in Outokumpu aims for sustainability

Aerial view of the GTK Mintec area in the Finnish town of Outokumpu. Photo: Geological Survey of Finland / Matti Immonen

The Geological Research Center in Outokumpu, Finland, is becoming a frontrunner in researching more environmentally friendly mining practices. At the heart of this movement is GTK Mintec, a centre division dedicated to developing innovative ways to recycle mining waste and enhance the management of process water in the mining industry.

Their goal is to extract valuable substances from raw materials more efficiently, thereby reducing unusable waste volume. This initiative is critical for transforming the mining sector into a more sustainable and eco-friendly industry.

New Facilities in Outokumpu

In February, GTK Mintec will complete the construction of a new laboratory and office space in the Outokumpu Industrial Village. The relocation to these new facilities is scheduled for March, followed by several months of equipment installations.

A Key Innovation: Water Laboratory

A significant addition is a water laboratory that analyses and purifies industrial process water. Furthermore, an 'intelligent pond' is being constructed to examine mining tailings, often a significant environmental challenge.

Jouko Nieminen, the head of development at GTK Mintec, believes that the outcomes of these new projects can make mining operations more environmentally friendly, especially in areas like tailings management and water recycling.

Embracing Circular Economy

GTK Mintec is also pioneering research in circular economy, aiming to provide models for mining companies to plan the reuse of by-products during operations rather than post-accumulation.

Global Impact

While over half of GTK Mintec’s clients are based in Finland, the rest are across the EU and globally. Currently, about 50 people work at GTK in Outokumpu, with the potential for an additional 10-15 jobs in the coming years. GTK also has employees in Kuopio, where its Eastern Finland unit is located.

The Outokumpu project, managed by Senaatti-kiinteistöt, a state agency, has a budget of approximately 16 million euros. This investment in new facilities is a crucial step towards developing more sustainable methods in the mining industry.

Source: GTK Mintec