Mining in the Arctic is a touchy topic. Any industrial activity in what normally are deserted areas causes conflict in the north. The deserted areas above the Arctic Circle are very often pastures of the reindeer. Mining is in the short term a zillion times more profitable than reindeer herding. However, reindeer herding is long term business, it is more fragile, and a bearer of much of the inland Saami culture. Given political strength, the reindeer herders have a say on what happens on the Arctic plains.
The short term scope of many mining operations has led to other negative results. Big foreign companies have come in, dug out the gems, and left the scene. Not only leaving an unpaid environmental bill, but at times even without paying the workers.
Lampivaara, the fell in Luosto, is a mining district. The mining company has a unique and unbeatable long-term, sustainable, and profitable business plan for its stakeholders. The gem is the purple quarts, the amethyst. The mythical rock loved by religious as well as impious people.
The chief miner, Mr. Timo Seppälä of Arctic Amethyst Limited shared the ideas behind the operation.
- We do not sell amethyst to the world markets in raw material form, he says. All the stones we dig for ourselves are used to make amethyst jewelry here in Lapland. All the Silver work, gold work and stone work is done in the area.
- In addition, visitors may dig for his or her very personal amethyst. In fact, it has already been decided what gem you will find. Your lucky stone is waiting for you.
So the mining company only sells finalized products. There are no big digging machines in Lampivaara. No big trucks to haul the mountain away. All the digging is done manually. The idea of operating this way is simple. If the company was in the raw material business and used big machines, it would take five years to remove the mountain. The company would end up with:
- An ugly hole in the ground
- No more view
- No more jobs
When we operate this way, says Seppælæ, we can stay here the next 500 years. And still have the view and the jobs. Thus, if you come back in two hundred years, I’ll still be here telling you stories.