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Outokumpu Mine, Finland

The old Outokumpu copper mine is considered to be the root of the modern mining industry in Finland. Not only did it start a mining boom in the country, but it also created a bad reputation for this activity due to its high environmental damage.


Outokumpu was a mine that operated from 1910 until 1989 located in North Karelia in Eastern Finland [1]. The Outokumpu ore deposit was 4km long, making it the second-largest deposit discovered in Europe until today [2]. The mine gives the name of the current location, formerly called Kuusjärvi. Today, Outokumpu, besides being a municipality in Finland, is a whole mining district with numerous deposits. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Outokumpu Mine, Finland
State or province:North Karelia
Location of conflict:Outokumpu
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Specific commodities:Silver
Iron ore
Nickel, Cobalt and Sulphur
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The old Outokumpu copper mine was located in Eastern Finland, around 350 km northeast of Helsinki and 100 km west of the Russian border, in today’s Outokumpu town [17]. The mine was found to be rich in copper, iron, sulphur, zinc, and cobalt. In smaller amounts, the Outokumpu ore had gold and silver. The mine employed up to 1.100 workers during its active years (from 1910 until 1989) [1]. The production of the Outokumpu mine was 28.5 Mt, 3.8% Cu, 0.24% Co, 0.12% Ni, 1.07% Zn, 0.8 ppm Au, and 8.9 ppm Ag [18].

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Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:01/01/1918
Company names or state enterprises:Outokumpu Ltd Exploration from Finland
Relevant government actors:Government of Finland
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Social movements
Forestry sector
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
New legislation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Even if the court process decided against the mining company, and they had to monetarily compensate for the damage done as a result of their activity, today it is still possible to find traces of environmental degradation. The response against this mine took too long.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] J. F. Devlin, Social Movements Contesting Natural Resource Development. Routledge, 2019.

[7] A. Stedman and K. P. Green, “Fraser Institute Annual Survey of mining companies 2017,” Fraser Inst., p. 100, 2018.

[11] R. K. Suunnittelu, K. C. Oy, E. Unionilta, P. Ymp, and H. Kivikirves, “Pro – Polvijärvi ry ; liike puhtaamman Polvijärven puolesta,” pp. 1–16, 2008.

[18] IBP USA, “Finland Mineral, Mining Sector Investment and Business Guide Volume 1.”

[4] A. J. Alanen, “The history of the Outokumpu copper works,” Scand. Econ. Hist. Rev., vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 186–188, 1960.

[6] T. Mononen and R. Sairinen, “Mining with social license: Case study of Kylylahti mine in Northern Karelia, Finland,” Extr. Ind. Soc., no. March, pp. 0–1, 2020.

[9] A. Tornivaara and P. M. Kauppila, Mine closure and rehabilitation Excursion to the Luikonlahti and Keretti mine sites. 2014.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[2] Izi.TRAVEL, “On the top.” [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 20-May-2021].
[click to view]

[16] H. Rhoades and T. Mustonen, “Rewilding Finland after mining.” [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 23-May-2021].
[click to view]

[3] Outokumpu, “History of Outokumpu.” [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 20-May-2021].
[click to view]

[8] M. Törmä, “LOKOMO - 100 years of engineering and steel industry Technology Waiheita,” 2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 20-May-2021].
[click to view]

[5] Boliden, “Boliden Summary Report Kylylahti 2019,” 2019.
[click to view]

[12] Nuclear Heritage, “PR:SAFETY DAM IS LEAKING - EMERGENCY LIMING HAS BEEN STARTED.” [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 23-May-2021].
[click to view]

[17] PorterGeo Database, “Ore Deposit Description - Outokumpu District.” [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 23-May-2021].
[click to view]

[10] University of Eastern Finland, “Lake Sysmäjärvi - taking a closer look to mining impacted lake.” [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 23-May-2021].
[click to view]

[13] EJAtlas, “Talvivaara nickel mining company, Finland.” [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 23-May-2021].
[click to view]

[14] EJAtlas, “Sakatti Mine, Lapland, Finland.” [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 23-May-2021].
[click to view]

[15] EJAtlas, “Kylylahti Mine, Polvijärvi, Finland.” [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 23-May-2021].
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Outolampi a polluted pond in Outokumpu, Finland
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Meta information
Contributor:Allegra Leandra Piazza, [email protected]
Last update03/06/2021
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