Natural resources in the Russian part of the Barents region

The Russian territories of the Barents Region are extremely rich in various natural resources. The original settlement was attracted to the area by the availability of fish, animals, forests, and later by minerals and energy. Today, these resources still form the basis of the Region’s economic activities. The main base for the regional fishing industry is the Barents Sea, and the White Sea and the fresh inland waters are also significant fishing grounds.

Productive forests are found in the Arkhangelsk Oblast, the Republic of Karelia, and the Republic of Komi, as well as in some parts of the Murmansk Oblast. There are four main types of forests in the Barents territories: birch, deciduous, pine and spruce. Together they cover more than 50% of the total land area.The Barents territories produce a significant share of pulp and paper in the Russian Federation, and also the mechanical wood industry in the Region is of growing significance.

There is also a wide diversity of flora and fauna in the forests and waters of the Barents territories. Altogether 1 162 species of plants, over 1 000 lichens, 600 mosses, 36 mammals, 180 birds, and 19 different fresh water fish have been found. There are also 30 species of marine fish in the White Sea and 144 in the Barents Sea.


Natural resources in the Nordic regions

The Nordic regions are rich with minerals and hydropower.  In the Nordic parts of the Barents Region, oil and natural gas can be found only in Norway, offshore the coast of Finnmark, Nordland and Troms. There is also a wide diversity of flora and fauna in the forests and waters of the Barents Region. The forests contain a large variety of mushrooms, herbs and berries such as lingonberry, bilberry, and cloudberry, all of which are important wild foods. The most common fish species are cod, haddock, polar cod, salmon, perch, capelin, and herring.

Maining and minerals

Norway - The County of Finnmark is Norway’s most important mining county with iron ores, high quality slate and nepheline syenite. Three mines are located in Bjørnevatn, whereof two are in operation. The annual production of iron ore totalling 3.7 million tonnes is delivered to Kirkenes for production of Fe-pellets. On Stjernøya in south-western Finnmark there is nepheline production with an output of 280,000 tonnes (1993). Building materials, such as granites, marbles, etc., are practically unlimited, and found in all provinces of the Barents Region. In the County of Nordland, 700,000 tonnes of ore per year are excavated from a mine in Balangen. The bulk sulphide concentrate extracted here, consisting of nickel, copper and cobalt, amounts to about 30,000 tonnes per year. The Rana mines consist of two mines and one pit of iron-ore. The excavation is about 800,000 tonnes of slack. Beikvassli mining is situated in the southern part of Nordland county. The production in 1993 was approximately 4,000 tonnes of lead concentrate and 80,000 tonnes of zinc concentrate. The mountains around Narvik contain both iron and gold ores, and marble is mined in Salten.

In Sweden, there are large iron ore mines in Kiruna and Malmberget, and processing plants in Kiruna, Malmberget and Svappavaara. There are two large copper mines in Kiruna, and a lead mine in Laisvall, Europe’s largest open pit copper mine, is found in Aitiken and Gällivare. Norrbotten has very extensive iron, copper, zinc, gold and silver deposits. Västerbottens mineral resources are also excellent. There are several active ore and mining sites in the County.

In the Finnish Lapland the most important mineral resources are the chrome, copper and gold deposits discovered in the Province. The chrome deposit of Keminmaa is one of the most significant ones in the World with ore reserves of approximately 150 million tonnes. The ore is used as raw material in the ferro- chrome works in Tornio, which produces more than 500,000 tonnes of ore annually. The Province of Oulu possesses deposits of copper, zinc and sulphur concentrates, of which the Pyhäsalmi mining industry produces 1.2 mill.tons/year. There is also talc and building stone deposits in the Province.

Large hydropower resources

The Nordic counties of the Barents Region have large hydropower resources. In Nordland, Troms and Finnmark, nearly 100% of the electricity demand is produced locally with hydropower. Nordland is the largest producer of hydropower in this region.

There are altogether 35 large hydropower plants in the County of Norrbotten, which produces about quarter of all electricity generated in Sweden. Eight of the largest hydropower plants in Sweden are situated along the Luleå River. Other domestic sources are wood fuels and peat.

Lapland’s largest river is the Kemi River in terms of hydropower potential. Also the Tornio River and the Ounas River have large hydropower potential but parts of them have been protected from exploitation. Most of the peat produced in Lapland is used locally in power plants and district heating plants, but some small amounts of peat are sold elsewhere The third major indigenous source of energy in Lapland is wind power, which is currently being explored.

In the Province of Oulu, there are 7 hydropower stations (425 MW) in the main stream of the River Oulu, and 18 power stations in the whole system of the lake and river system. Peat is produced 9.5 m3 annually, which corresponds to 8.9 mill. MWh. Some wind power stations have been built in the province, and wood fuel is another natural source of energy.

Source: Economic geography and structure of the Russian territories of the Barents region, Arctic Centre reports 31, 1999.

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