Red rocks decomposing at the mining pit at the Juomasuo mining project.

The start for this guided tour is at the number 12 marked on the map below. Please move there.

You are about to participate in a lecture in a guided tour format, where you move across the Juomasuo cobalt-gold mining project lands in Kuusamo, Northen Finland, while never leaving the Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden’s evolution tree part of the garden. An interplay between the well maintained botanic gardens and the wasted lands of a future poisonous mine. The area we cover on our tour in Kuusamo is 1366,59 hectars or in maybe more understandable numbers – 13 660 000 m² of land and water. 

Evergreen inner jungle. The well maintained and taken care of GREEN turning to fall surrounding you now as you stand in at the start of this tour. But through this virtual tour your inner jungle might become somewhat less green as you walk through areas where the human behaviour has removed or will remove the green that once was here. While you gently scroll your phone in the gloriously beautiful surroundings, at the same time millions of euros and plenty of work hours are spent on planning how to remove the similar plants from their original habitats and homes. Many of these plants have been living here since the end of the last ice age. Now in just a few years human activity might remove the millennia of plant life at this location. Leaving behind a large hole in the ground and piles and piles of side stone with poisonous minerals that the rain waters transport the poison to the waterways located just down hill from the great hole in the rock.

You should be standing somewhere around the base of the Tree of Life, around the number 12 on the map above. Here you meet the first plant species that can be found in the areas around the planned Juomasuo mine. In the pond the gardeneres have planted 1. Nymphaea alba, white waterlily, isolumme and 2. Scheuchzeria palustris, Rannoch-rush, leväkkö. Even though old plant species, these are not the oldest species of plants of the evolution tree, but maybe the gardeners wanted to remind us that all life started in water. The river Kitkajoki that runs less than a kilometer down hill from the mining project site. The river has some calm small bays where a subspecies of the white waterlily (Nymphaea alba ssp. candida, pohjanlumme) live. 

Now move to the garden section numbered 107 indicated on the map of the Tree of Life garden. On your way you can try to locate the Nymphaea alba, white waterlily, isolumme in the pond. I will mention many plants located in the garden that you might want to try to locate in the garden but this could take a lot of time and please note that because it is fall in Helsinki and in Kuusamo many of the plants are already done for this season and resting without leaves, or just as roots in the soil, or as seeds stored in the soil or in the storage of the garden. So the plants mentioned during the tour might not be present in visible form in the garden. But most of the plants mentioned here also will be linked below the videos so that you can see the plant and maybe read a bit about it if you please. I also try to give the scientific name, the English name and the Finnish name, but unfortunately there isn’t always a name for each plant in each language – or at least I can’t find one, I am not a biologist or gardener after all.

So please move now to the garden section number 107, locatin shown on the map below.

107. 410 million years ago: Lycophytes, 360 million years ago: Ferns– We meet reindeer at the old saw mill

You are at the western entry to the Juomasuo mining project. At the old saw mill that is now the habitat of the multinational mining company. The literal translation of Juomasuo is a bog for drinking, meaning that at some point there the bog here had drinkable water. This mining project is located just a couple of tens kilometers below the Arctic Circle.

It is early July. It is almost the peak season for flowering for the plants in this arctic region. The reindeers have gathered in herds here. It is unusual for this time. Usually at this time mother reindeers with their babies roam alone in the forests, while the men…  I don’t know what the male’s do at this time. Probably nothing else than growing big antlers for fall for the mating season.

Usually this kind of big herds form in fall. Is this formation of big herds because this is a relatively open space and so there is wind and so there are less mosquitoes and other biting pests? Or is the reason for this herding the wolves and bears that have been spotted roaming close to human habitats? My landlord sent me a warning from a local reindeer herder about these animals spotted near our place. Many eaten dead reindeer baby remains had been found and the reindeer had started to form groups in order to find protection from each others.

Here cobalt, gold and uranium (among others) collected in the bedrock about 2 billion years ago. The same time a mountain chain similar to the Alps formed. The mountains are known as called Karelides. Then millions years of erosion and several ice ages wore the mountains down. What is now left are cores of the old toughest peaks. Like the popular skiing resort Ruka 10 km south from here and the highest peak of the Juomasuo mining project the Pohjasvaara.

The mining company markets the mining project as being part of fight against climate change. It is true in a way. The mine would produce cobalt which is needed in battery production. A growing number of batteries is needed in renewable energy production and in electric cars. The company also further argues that if a mine isn’t established here the cobalt has to be then mined by children in Congo.

We leave the quarters of the mining company and the reindeer and travel deeper to the center of the mine project area. We are at the edge of the area that is of interest to the mining company and possibly at the edge of the area of the mine. Here they will put up a wall and a gate and choose who can enter.

This is the part with the oldest species of this garden: Lycophytes and Ferns. From these the lychophyte plant species developed 410 million years ago. The lycophytes were the first to appear and around 300 million years ago they grew into large plants, the size of trees and established first forests. Today Lycophytes can still be found throughout Finland. In this garden they have the Lycopodium clavatum ssp. clavatum, common club moss, katinlieko,  this species can be found at the Juomasuo. Another species in this garden is Selaginella moellendorffii, lesser clubmoss, which is a relative to Selaginella selaginoides, northern spikemoss, mähkä a species that is found also at the Juomasuo.

Ferns appeared 360 years ago. Today some ferns still grow to the size of trees maybe the most well known example are  the ferns in New Zealand. In Finland they are rather small. 

Out of the ferns in the garden I would like to highlight the Gymnocarpium robertianum, limestone fern, kalkki-imarre as this species is very rare in Finland and can only be found here in Kaisaniemi and on the limestone cliffs of Kuusamo and Salla in the areas of the Oulanka National Park. The river Kitkajoki runs through the southern part of the national park. And like I previously mentioned, the upper parts of the river Kitkajoki run just under a km away from the edge of the mining project and the mine would be located uphill from the river. The species demands a lot of lime which is abundant in Kuusamo soil. In general Finland has relatively poor lime levels in soil but Kuusamo is one of the locations in Finland with plenty of this mineral and because of this supports a remarkable variety of plants. 

Unfortunately the Kaisaniemi gardens don’t have many of the Equisetum plants. In the garden they have the Equisetum hyemale ssp. affine, Scouring Rush horsetail, which is subspecies of the Equisetum hyemale, rough horsetail, kangaskorte that is a species found in and around Juomasuo. There are many equisetum species in Kuusamo of which I would like to mention Equisetum sylvaticum, common horsetail, metsäkorte which is responsible of many fairytale forest look-a-like experiences here in Kuusamo, as vast areas of forest undergrowth is covered in what looks like a green mist but are actually the E. sylvaticum. Another species I’d like to mention is Equisetum fluviatile, water horsetail, järvikorte which lives on the aforementioned river Kitkajoki.

Now our tour takes us to the section number 106 of the Tree of Life garden. See map below. 

106. 300 million years ago: Gymnosperms, 190 million years ago: Ancient Angiosperms, 150 million years ago: Early Dicots – we meet ancient trees and the family of my grandmother

Whereas the previous group of plants don’t produce seeds but spores, Gymnosperms are a group of seed-producing plants. Some familiar gymnosperms living in the Juomasuo are Pinus sylvestris, scots pine, mänty, Juniperus communis, juniper, kataja and Picea abies, Norwegian spruce, kuusi. They don’t have these common trees in the garden but instead they have their relatives. Please see list below.

The term gymnosperm comes from ancient Greek and literally means ’naked seeds’.  Gymnosperm seeds develop either on the surface of scales or leaves, which are often modified to form cones, or solitary as in Taxus baccata, yew, lehtikuusi or Ginkgo biloba, Ginkgo, neidonhiuspuu. In the garden they have the relative of yew Taxus brevifolia, Pacific yew and also ginkgo.

Angiospermae means that the seed is hidden, contrary to the naked seed of gymnosperms. (You should read about this and double check this , I am not a trained biologist) Ancient angiosperms appeared 190 million years ago. 

Ranunculus is one of the genus (kind of like a family) that are angiosperms. There are several ranunculus’ that live in and around the Juomasuo project like the very common ranunculus acris meadow buttercup, niittyleinikki and ranunculus peltatus, pond water crowfoot, järvisätkin. Instead of these they have in the garden Ranunculus gramineus, grass-leaved buttercup, ruoholeinikki and Ranunculus lanuginosus, wooly buttercup, villaleinikki.

In this part of the garden you can also find the Trollius europaeus, globeflower, kullero that is common in Kuusamo. The flower blooms usually in June around my grandmother’s birthday. My grandmother’s family has been living around the lake Kitkajärvi and the river Kitkajoki as early as there are records of people living there; some of the people in the records were called Sámi or actually back then they called them Lapps by the colonizing Swedes and Finns. And there is evidence of people living in the area before this, e.g. there are stone age dwelling sites close to my grandmother’s childhood home. A Marttinin Antti appears in 17th century legal documents and church records and is mentioned as a Sámi leader of sorts or representative at least for the Kitka siida people. Kitka siida was the community and the lands that the now extinct Kemi Sámi people habitated. Lands of Juomasuo belong to the Kitka siida. The people of this siida lived around the lake Kitkajärvi and the River Kitkajoki. From the official records it is possible to follow how the offspring of Marttinin Antti are forced to settle down and establish Finnish farms and become Finnish during the following centuries. My grandfather also has ancestry in this Kitka siida of Kuusamo and possibly also to the other siida in Kuusamo called Maanselkä, located around the areas of modern day center of Kuusamo. The graveyard located between Kitkajoki and the Juomasuo mining project is filled with family name’s from our family tree.

Kitkajoki has always been part of our family vocabulary and some kind of shared inner landscape. Either we have visited there or someone has gone fishing, hiking or just to wander around. On many christmas eve dinners we have eaten the now endangered lake trout from the river Kitkajoki. I have drunk many liters of blueberry juice made from berries picked from here. I have eaten the rabbit that lived here, the reindeer too. And cloudberries and lingonberries that have become part of my makings. The waters and minerals – matter that makes up my body is from here. And so is my DNA. Carrying the genes of the past ancestors, the ones who lived here and the ones who came here. Both are in me.

Please, now move to the next location of our tour section 105 of the garden and also shown in the map below.

105. 150 million years ago: Monocots – we meet the common and the rare orchids and the common and rare grasses

Here we find plants which produce only a single leaf once the seed sprouts. The are different from the dicots we meet after this section of the garden. The dicots produce two leaves as the seed sprouts. Here among the monocots we meet a lot of grasses. A lot. I can’t go too deep into the grasses as there are so many of them but will mention genus Carex also known as sedges, or sarat in Finnish. There are some mention worthy plants from this genus in Kuusamo. None of the Carex in the botanic garden live around Juomasuo. Mention worthy sedges from the area are Carex flava, hedgehog grass, keltasara a carex dependant of lime in the soil. Carex lepidocarpa ssp. jemtlandica, Kuusamonnokkasara that is a rare in Finland and protected by law and also gets its Finnish name from Kuusamo as the species only habitat in Finland is Kuusamo and neighboring Salla, Hyrynsalmi and Suomussalmi. Another kind of sedge is the Kobresia simpliciuscula, false sedge, Kuusamonsarake, which again gets its name from Kuusamo as it is the only place in Finland where this species can be found and it is like the previous C. lepidocarpa ssp. jemtlandica protected by Finnish laws. And I have understood that either one or both is stored in the seed bank of Luomus, the organization running the Kaisaniemi gardens. 

The genus Eriophorum is also a mention worthy. The white fluffy woolen balls that dot the bogs in Juomasuo. In the garden you can find the Eriophorum angustifolium, common cottongrass, Luhtavilla that is also living here in Kuusamo. 

But maybe the flashiest species of monocots are many of the orchids. And in Kuusamo the most famous is the Calypso bulbosa, Calypso orchid, neidonkenkä. The orchid is the emblem of the aforementioned Oulanka National Park and it needs a whole ecosystem to flower: a special fungus-spruce symbiosis, special climate and lighting conditions of old growth forests. Considering the amount of things that need to go just right before this flower can bloom it seems like a lottery for this thing to even be alive.

Another orchid species living in the same area is the Cypripedium calceolus, lady’s-slipper orchid, tikankontti. In the gardens there is the Cypripedium Cultivar Ulla Silkens, which I assume is a human made hybrid variety related to the C. calceolus. I will never forget when I as a about 7 years old first met this species on a fishing trip to river Kuusinki with my grandfather. It was a warm summer day and I was following up a hill a small stream in the middle of a clear cut forest. As i came to the pond that was the source of this small stream I found big bush of yellow brown flowers that seemed like they had come from outter space. I still remember the glow of these flowers in full bloom.

The genus Dactylorhiza has many different species that live in Kuusamo. At the Juomasuo mine project site by the Hangaslampi pond I found many members of this genus. And as I am not a biologist I couldn’t make a difference between individual species. I just agreed that there are plenty of Dactylorhiza on the shores of this pond. Afterwards I also heard that this genus easily cross breeds and creates number of hybrids – meaning that the parents are of different species but still produced a living offspring similar to ligers or mules. According to the mining project plans this pond could be the source of water for the mine.

In the garden (but not from Kuusamo) you can find Dactylorhiza purpurella var. purpurella, northern marsh orchid. See list of some of the Daxtylorhiza’s that are found in the areas of the Juomasuo on the webpage after this video.

Another rare orchid living in the visinity of the Juomasuo is the Epipactis atrorubens, dark-red helleborine, Tummaneidonvaippa, again one of the only habitats of this species in Finland is in the Oulanka National Park located just few kilometers from the mine. In Kaisaniemi you can find its relative Epipactis gigantea, giant helleborine.

Some of the Daxtylorhiza’s that are found in the areas of the Juomasuo:

Dactylorhiza fuchsii, common spotted orchid, kalkkimaariankämmekkä/kielikämmekkä
Dactylorhiza lapponica, Lapland marsh-orchid, Lapinkämmekkä, protected by Finnish laws
Dactylorhiza maculata, Heath spotted orchid, maariankämmekkä/täpläkämmekkä,
Dactylorhiza incarnata subsp. incarnata, early marsh orchid, punakämmekkä
Dactylorhiza viride, frog orchid, pussikämmekkä

Some of the other orchid species found in Kuusamo:

Epipogium aphyllum, ghost orchid, Metsänemä
Goodyera repens, creeping lady’s tresses, yövilkka
Gymnadenia conopsea (var. lapponica), fragrant orchid, punakirkiruoho
Platanthera bifolia, lesser butterfly-orchid, valkolehdokki, protected by Finnish laws

Other monocots that both live in the Kaisaniemi botanic garden and Kuusamo are:

Convallaria majalis, lily of the valley, kielo, the Finnish national flower is rare in Kuusamo
Luzula luzuloides, white wood-rush, valkopiippo
Maianthemum bifolium, false lily of the valley, Oravanmarja
Paris quadrifolia, true lover’s knot, sudenmarja

Now let’s leave the orchids here and move to section 101 of this garden, again shown in the map below. 

101. 120 Million years ago: Carophyllales and Asterids – how the numerous mining projects threaten the habitats of plants

Carophyllales is a diverse group of dicots. In this part of the garden you can find one of my personal favorites Dianthus superbus, Fringed Pink, pulskaneilikka. This plant is relatively common in areas around Kuusamo and southern Lapland. If you compare the map of all mining project and mineral exploration permits and compare it with the map of habitats of D. superbus in Finland, you will see that if all the mining projects in the area become mines there will be devastating impact on the habitat of this species. The same situation is with many other plant species’ habitats in this area e.g. the previously mentioned C. bulbosa or the endemic species Erigeron acris subsp. decoloratus, kalvaskallioinen that is only found in Kuusamo in the whole world. Most of the surface area of Kuusamo is claimed by some mining project/company.

There are many carophylalles in Kuusamo and some are endangered. Like some of the plants in the genus Silene: Silene rupestris, Rock Campion, kalliokohokki, this species usually is found on the sea shores in Finland, but there is a separate population living on the hills around Ruka. It is a remnant of the time when after the ice age the hills around Ruka were islands in a sea. Then there is the Silene suecica, Arctic Campion, pikkutervakko, can also be found on the ancient island hills around Ruka.

Another species of Silene is the Silene tatarica, Tartarian Catchfly, tataarikohokki, this is also a remanant from a past ice age. It is quite common these days on the side of the highway number 5. This side of the road area is also habitat for the Dianthus superbus, Fringed Pink, pulskaneilikka and Erigeron acris subsp. decoloratus, kalvaskallioinen. An endangered asterid species Gentianella amarella, autumn gentian, horkkakatkero lives in the same sandy soil, previously it was used to treat malaria. 

You can smell the Rhododendron tomentosum, marsh Labrador tea, suopursu from far, you can probably still smell this asterid in the Kaisaniemi gardens. The asterids contain many of the economically valuable berry bearing plants from the genus Vaccinium. Plants like Vaccinium oxycoccos, cranberry, isokarpalo (this is planted in Kaisaniemi), Vaccinium myrtillus, bilberry, mustikka and Vaccinium vitis-idaea, lingonberry/cowberry, puolukka have a great importance to the economy of Finland and locally in Kuusamo. Many people depend on these berries as part of their everyday diet. These berries are also sold. During the past couple of decades berry pickers have been flown in from Thailand to pick berries. This ”cheap labor” has caused the prices of the berries to drop so much that the locals don’t see any point in picking the berries anymore, at least if you are planning to sell them. In the past the berry picking has been a good way for e.g. local teenagers to make some extra cash. But today the price that is paid for the berries is so low that it doesn’t even cover the gas expenses for your drive to pick the berries. There are severe workers rights issues around the Thai workers as well. Just this summer new laws regulating this imported worker business came into effect. One of them is that the Thai workers need to be paid the same amount for berries as the market price. But the problem is now that years of cheap labor have sunk the price of berries very low. Today some locals sell their berries online on their own and I guess there the price is somewhat reasonable. But the Thai workers get only the lowest price.

Now move to section 104 shown on map below.

104. 120 Million years ago: The subgroups of Dicots and Rosids – more rarities and some very northern species

Maybe the most familiar rosids in this part of the garden are willows. There is a multitude of willow species. For me it is the same as with some orchids, many seem so similar that I can’t seem to be able to tell which one is which. But now I want to point to you a northern willow that I have always liked:  Salix lapponum, downy willow, pohjanpaju. It has fur covered leaves that shine a bit like silver. I have always thought it to be a very common willow but only this year while working at the mining project have I realized that it is not very common in my usual surroundings in south Finland, but it is only very common in Kuusamo. Unfortunately there isn’t S. lapponum in the Kaisaniemi garden but here are willows found in Kaisaniemi: Salix repens ssp. repens var. argentea, Hietikkosiropaju (a Salix repens could be found in Kuusamo) and Salix repens ssp. rosmarinifolia, Kapealehtipaju

Another familiar species is the several Violas that live around the Juomasuo. Two same species can be found both in the gardenand in Juomasuo: Viola canina, Heath Dog Violet, aho-orvokki and Viola palustris , Marsh Violet, Suo-orvokki.

In this part of the garden you find also the saxifragas, like the Saxifraga cespitosa, tufted alpine saxifrage, mätäsrikko, which also is found in Kuusamo. There are still several mention worthy saxifragas living around Juomasuo, two of witch are true northern species:  Saxifraga aizoides, yellow mountain saxifrage, kultarikko, a northern species that is only found in 5 locations in Finland: Kuusamo, Salla, Enontekiö, Inari and Utsjoki. Similarly Saxifraga nivalis, snow saxifrage, pahtarikko, has the biggest populations in Finland in Kuusamo, Kilpisjärvi and Utsjoki. Saxifraga hirculus, yellow marsh saxifrage, lettorikko, is a species protected by Finnish laws and found in Kuusamo.

It is also possible to meet the Ribes alpinum, mountain currant, taikinamarja species both in Kaisaniemi and in Juomasuo, but maybe more common in Juomasuo is Ribes spicatum Northern Red Currant, pohjanpunaherukka.

Now we go to section 102 to meet the royal and the famine. Location shown again on the map below.

102. Asterids and the king

There’s a one plant in this part of the garden that I am somehow very keen on, the Pedicularis sceptrum-carolinum, Moor-king, Kaarlenvaltikka. This northern plant gets its name from the king Charles XI of Sweden who ruled Sweden from 1660-1697. The most likely a Swedish person who ”found” the plant gave it the name spectrum carolinum, which translates to the scepter of Charles to honor the king Charles XI. This same Charles is the king who decided that the areas of the Kemi Sámi should be settled by Finnish settlers so he could grow his kingdom. The King established Kuusamo as the new center of this new acquired land and built a church in Kuusamo. Kuusamo became the center for areas from Kuusamo to Inari. The King gifted a large silver bell for the new church that also had a function as audible propaganda. The bell would ring and the sound of it would carry over tens of kilometers and with the sound it would remind the poor pagans about the glory of god and king. WW2 destroyed much of the material history of Kuusamo, the bell survived and it still rings in the bell tower of the new church of Kuusamo. There is a tradition to ring the bell for the dead of the parish around the funeral of this parisher. During my grandfather’s funeral this bell was rung in memory of him.

Another plant also related to the king Charles XI and living both in Juomasuo and in Kaisaniemi is the Menyanthes trifoliata, Bogbean, raate. Charles was the king of Sweden during the tiny ice age of the 17th century. During the century the canals of Amsterdam froze and many paintings of people ice skating were produced. The same time the same ice age caused the Great Famine of 1695–1697 in Finland. During this time frost ruined crops and about a third of the population of Finland died of hunger and related ilnesses. In northern Finland and in Kuusamo about half of the population died, several farms were abandoned. At this time the church was very concerned about people starting to eat ”unnatural foods”. The vicars weren’t talking about the dogs, human foetuses, leather or the straw the people were eating but rather they were worried about plants collected from nature. One of these plants was the Menyanthes trifoliata, Bogbean, raate. The root of which could be boiled (several times) for some kind of a meal, eventhough a bitter one. I do not recommend trying to eat it, I don’t know if it is actually edible, or if it is in fact terribly poisonous. During this time the actions of king Charles XI didn’t help the starvation in Finland – even at the most bleakest months he insisted that everybody had to pay for emergency grains, even as the masses of poor ridden with illness wondered the lands the king wanted to be paid for the food that was stored in the kings warehouses. 

The famine also affected the Sámi in Kuusamo. The invading Finns were using an ancient slash and burn technique where they burned down the forest in order to establish a field to grow crops. As their crops decreased they started to burn down more forests and establish more fields. This affected the Sámi who were at this time dependent on hunting wild reindeer and fishing. And as the woodlands were burned down their livelihoods were affected as the reindeer and other animals lost their habitat. And after the crops kept on worsening the Finns started to hunt and fish more to compensate for the food shortage, which again affected the livelihood of the Sámi. The king’s expensive “emergency” grain never reached this part of the kingdom. So during the famine a lot of people fled from Kuusamo: Finns tried to seek help from the east: Karelians and Russians but were forced violently to change religion to Ortohodox in exchange for bread. Few of my Sámi ancestors survived on the Russian side among the Sámi people living there. As mentioned previously they would establish later farms in Kuusamo in their own ancestral lands and become Finns. In the beginning of the 18th century only a few Sámi families still lived in Kuusamo. During the first decades of the new century Sámi people from Kuusamo disappeared from the Church and legal records. 

In this part of the garden Veronica longifolia, garden speedwell, rantatädyke that also lives at the shores of river Kitkajoki.

Now we go to the last part of the garden to section 103, see again the map for location. 


103. Rosids, climate change and the future

We are nearing the end of our guided walk. We have walked through millions of years of life on earth. And we are now standing at the edge of time and the garden.

Here we can still find plant species that live both at the Juomasuo and in the Kaisaniemi gardens. The small Betula nana, dwarf birch, vaivaiskoivu  living on the bogs of Juomasuo. The deadly poisonous Daphne mezereum, mezereum, näsiä.  The Geum rivale, water avens, ojakellukka that lives in ditches and by the shores quietly. And the Rhamnus frangula, Alder Buckthorn, Korpipaatsama that I have never seen in the wild. 

This is a time when new people with new wants are coming to the lands of the lost Kemi Sámi. Seeking riches and treasures among the decomposing lost history that is slowly overgrown by undergrowth. Skulls and bones covered in moss. New people from Australia and Switzerland wanting to remove once again the livelihoods of the local peoples. You can’t pick berries from the huge hole in the ground of the future mine. No reindeer can herd in the blackness of the hole. No rabbit can seek shelter. No fish in the poisoned river. The mine hole makes people dependent on money that it will produce. And because the food is gone from this place it needs to be bought with the money from the cool alleys of the super markets packaged in plastic cubes imported from afar. The supermarket runs on renewable energy. But the berries would have grown without any outside support. 

There is more gold and cobalt on your phone than there is in the same amount of rock from the Juomasuo mining project. Your phone is 0.017% gold, which means that there is about 0.034 g of gold in your phone. Don’t worry you are not rich yet, this amount of gold is worth maybe a few euros. In the Juomasuo there is 4.2 g of gold in a tonne (=1000 kg) of stone. Which means that there is 0.00042% gold from the weight. So in a sense your phone is more golden than the rock in Juomasuo.

There is on average 6.3 grams of cobalt in your smartphone. So in an Iphone 11 that weighs about 200 g there is 3.15 % of cobalt, in Juomasuo there is 0.064% cobalt. If 80 % of the people in Kuusamo have an old phone that they haven’t recycled yet, it means that there is 75.6 kg of unused cobalt in Kuusamo at this very moment. If 80 % of the Finnish population have an old smartphone stored in their cupboard that means there is 27 720 kg or 27.72 tonnes of cobalt inside Finnish borders stored in unused smartphones. And this is only if there is a single smartphone hidden by 80 % of the population – I have three old smartphones stored in my home. How about all the unused laptops, ipads, car batteries… 

The Juomasuo mine is estimated to produce 20 300 tonnes of cobalt and it will remove 25.7 mega tonnes of rock, that is 25 700 000 tonnes and to put that in maybe more understandable kilograms is 25 700 000 000 kg. That is a one big black hole in the ground. And remember only 0.064 % of this is cobalt that they are seeking. The company is marketing the place as the fourth best place to dig for cobalt in Europe. The infamous Terrafame/Talvivaara in Sotkamo will produce way more than this: 290 000 tonnes of cobalt. The 20300 tonnes of cobalt from Juomasuo seems very little. But still it seems that there is interest to extract even this little amount and trash the environment in the process.

Is it really worth digging up this place and at the same time maybe destroying something that wasn’t necessary? Do we really need to dig next to this river that supports exceptional life along its shores and forests? Do we really want to trash one of the most well known national parks in Finland? We have already trashed Talvivaara. Do we need to trash more places? Juomasuo could become yet another victim of climate change and that of human greed.

The work has been supported by the Olga and Vilho Linnamo foundation and the Kone Foundation.