Skip to content

Working group proposes solutions for the use of extractive waste

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
Publication date 5.4.2024 11.10 | Published in English on 12.4.2024 at 12.50
Press release

Extractive waste and other mineral waste account for three quarters of all waste generated annually in Finland. In its final report, the working group exploring ways to utilise extractive waste proposed eight measures to remove obstacles to utilisation.

Left-over rock, i.e. waste from extraction, is used in mine construction, such as roads and foundations, and in the filling and closing of mines. Left-over rock and tailings may also contain valuable minerals, the utilisation of which has previously not been economically or technically feasible.

“The most rewarding part of the group’s work were discussions with mining companies, research institutes, those interested in further refining, potential customers and ministries. The group has already launched initiatives and created networks that open up new business opportunities. There are still far too many bottlenecks and obstacles in the utilisation of extractive waste. We can only make progress with the circular economy when everybody does their part,” says Professor of Practice Hannele Pokka, who chaired the coordination group. 

The group proposes eight measures. The quantity and quality of potential raw materials in left-over rock and tailings must be identified. Utilisation requires multidisciplinary expertise, research and new technological solutions.  The circular economy must be taken into account better in the procurement of public sector infrastructure and construction. For example, a separate report and justification should be drawn up on the use of virgin materials. 

New mining projects should prepare a report on the circular economy for a more systematic utilisation of extractive waste. It should indicate how surplus masses are minimised throughout the life cycle of the activity. The plan would be part of the permit process.

As a by-product of extractive operations, surface material, loose soil, left-over rock and tailings are generated, which are classified as extractive waste when discarded. Most of this waste is placed in the mining area. According to Statistics Finland, a total of just under 125 million tonnes of waste was generated in 2021, of which mining and extraction accounted for 93.5 million tonnes. 

Hannele Pokka, Professor of Practice, Chair of the working group, tel. +358 40 482 2772
Sari Tasa, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 5048 242