Ore production and trends
SGU annually collects detailed data on Swedish ore production. Swedish ore production reached 88.6 million tonnes in 2021 – the highest figure to date. Output has risen by 22 per cent since 2015. Exploration activities in Sweden reached a record high in 2021, total investments increased by 27 per cent.
Sweden's mineral resources and mineral reserves are located mainly in the three ore districts of Norrbotten, Skelleftefältet and Bergslagen. In addition to these areas, there are also assets in the rest of Norrland, Småland and Dalsland.
At the end of the 1910s, there were almost 500 mines in Sweden that produced almost 8 million tonnes of ore. Only 50 years ago, there were about 100 mines in Sweden that produced approximately 20 million tonnes of ore. Swedish ore production reached 88.6 million tonnes in 2021 – the highest figure to date. Output has risen by 22 per cent since 2015. Sweden is a major producer of iron ore in the EU, as well as lead and zinc. After the financial crisis of 2008–2009 production recovered, almost doubling since then. Boliden’s Aitik mine is one explanatory factor, but production has also increased at LKAB’s mines and to some extent at others.
There were 12 operational metal ore mines in Sweden in 2021. Statistics on the number of mining facilities include Svartliden and the Boliden enrichment plants, so there are 14 facilities in total.
Some 7,387 people were employed in the Swedish mining industry in 2021. Non-ferrous ore mines employ more people than do iron ore mines, and there are also more mining facilities of this kind. Most mining industry workers are employed in the provinces of Norrbotten and Västerbotten. This is also where most of the facilities are located.
Non-iron ore mines
A total of 883,401 tonnes of concentrates were produced from non-iron ore mines in Sweden in 2021, down roughly 6 per cent on the previous year. The decrease was largely due to a lower metal content in the mined ore. The largest percentage reduction for concentrate and metal content was recorded for copper. The metal content of lead and zinc was approximately the same as the previous year. The metal content of gold rose by 7 per cent, largely due to increased amounts of concentrate. Silver metal content also increased.
Exploration activities in Sweden reached a record high in 2021. Total investments in Sweden increased by 27 per cent. Investments were just over SEK 970 million in 2020 and SEK 1,230 million in 2021. The main exploration companies are the mining companies LKAB, Boliden and Zinkgruvan Mining AB, which together account for 80 per cent of exploration in the country. Most exploration in 2021 was in the form of near-mine explorations, i.e. exploration in or near an existing mine. Strategic efforts to extend the life of mining around existing mining operations are costly. About half of the exploration took place in Norrbotten County. Investments in exploration for base metals and gold were the largest. Iron exploration accounted for 46 per cent in 2021. Only a small proportion of investments involved exploration for battery metals and graphite.
There were 585 current exploration permits at the end of 2021 (Table 19, Fig. 19). This figure was up on the previous year, when 550 permits had been issued. Permit numbers are currently fairly low compared with historical levels. In 2013 there were 853 exploration permits. Eighty-five new exploration permits were granted in 2021.
New mining concessions
There were three new mining concessions in 2021. Six concessions were pending at the end of the year. One concession has been revoked. Two mining concessions were rejected and one application was dismissed. One application for a processing concession was granted. There were 165 valid mining concessions at the end of 2021. Most of the sites are located within the three ore regions in Sweden: Malmfälten in Norrbotten County, Skelleftefältet with gold line in Västerbotten County and Bergslagen (most in Dalarna County). At the end of the year, there were 12 active mines with concessions, all metal mines.
Industrial minerals and dimension stone
Deliveries of industrial minerals increased by about 8 per cent in 2021. This was a reversal of the declining trend seen in recent years. About 7.6 million tonnes of industrial minerals were delivered in 2021. Limestone accounted for just under 6.4 million tonnes, up 12 per cent on 2020. Last year’s declining trend for limestone was due to a general decline in steel production in the country, which reduced the need for limestone deliveries to steel mills.
Quartz sand production has been growing steadily for several years, whereas quartzite production has fluctuated. For clay and other industrial minerals, the downward trend continues, following a few years of upturn.
Production in the dimension stone industry increased significantly in 2021 compared with 2020. 216,000 tonnes of finished products were delivered in 2021, in the form of trading blocks, semi-finished products and finished stone products from 57 dimension stone quarries operated by a total of 24 companies.
Last reviewed 2023-01-24