Geological Survey to search for critical raw materials in Estonia

  • 2023-06-19
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – The recently completed Johvi magnetic anomaly research report and an inter-university cooperation project that ended in 2022 revealed that the crystalline bedrock of Estonia has a high research potential, and the Geological Survey of Estonia has prepared a more detailed roadmap for further studies of the bedrock, as part of which more attention is paid to critical raw materials.

"While in the past the main emphasis in the study of the bedrock of Estonia was on manifestations of iron ore and sulphidic mineralization, recent studies have shown that both the history of mineralization and the associated elements are much more diverse. It has also been confirmed that, by using modern methods, new discoveries can be made from drill cores that have already been explored," Siim Nirgi, senior geologist at the mineral resources department of the Estonian Geological Survey, said in a press release.

As a result of the digital transition and the green transition, chemical elements which are used, for example, in renewable energy and battery technologies, have become more important. The global geopolitical situation has changed, and the economic security of Europe, together with the availability of critical raw materials, is also in Estonia's interest.

"In the context of geological exploration, this means that instead of a couple of known combustible minerals, we have to search for new locations of extraction for dozens of elements that were previously of less interest. Considering the connection of the Estonian crystalline bedrock with that of southern Finland and the Bergslagen areas of Sweden, there is good reason to look for the raw materials found in these areas also in our ground," the senior geologist said.

He noted that the last time attention was paid at the national level to the rocks of the crystalline bedrock in Estonia was more than 30 years ago. In the meantime, both the methods of research and the demand for raw materials by society have changed.

For the systematic exploration of mineral resources in crystalline rocks, a research roadmap was prepared at the initiative of the Geological Survey of Estonia, which articulates the current state of affairs, explains the geological assumptions and establishes a general action plan that must be followed in further research.

Searches for and exploration of potential mineral resources in the crystalline bedrock of Estonia will focus on those resources that are as likely to be found in Estonia as in the Fennoscandian mineralization provinces with the same bedrock. Based on the 2021 report of the Nordic Geological Survey, which described the potential for the presence of strategic technological metal ores needed for the digital and green transitions, as well as other minerals of high economic importance, in the Nordic countries, the geological structure of the crystalline subsoil of Estonia justifies the search for and exploration of the following metals: bismuth, cobalt, indium, nickel, lithium, tantalum, niobium, silver, tungsten, gold, copper, rare earths and platinum group metals.

The proposed activities are organized into stages, which are divided into two subtopics: petrographic-geochemical analysis of the bedrock and analysis of structural geology and geophysical fields. The Geological Survey of Estonia has already started the first stages, during which the geochemical and mineralogical dataset of bedrock rocks is digitized, data are analyzed and interpreted, and the chemical and mineralogical composition of drill cores is scanned.