Five questions for Copperstone’s deputy CEO

Copperstone’s Deputy CEO, Anna Tyni, is born and raised in Kiruna with many years of experience in the mining industry, including various leadership roles at LKAB. In 2020, she joined Copperstone as the Chief Operating Officer and is now the Deputy CEO, responsible for a significant part of the preparations for the restart of the Viscaria mine.

What attracted you to Copperstone?

The opportunity to be part of building the company from the ground up. In Copperstone’s case, it has involved everything from corporate structure and mining projects to environmental permit processes. Additionally, being part of Kiruna’s first publicly listed company with the goal of becoming one of the world’s most sustainable mining companies – that challenge was too hard to refuse.

For me, the greatest motivation is to uphold Copperstone’s culture and values, where people are at the center. It’s an amazing feeling when it succeeds, and you see all strong forces moving in the same direction. When people enjoy their work, feel appreciated, and are well, it creates an energy that can literally move mountains!

Mining is an environmentally hazardous activity that always affects the nearby environment. How have the residents of Kiruna reacted to the news that Viscaria will start up again and that there will be another mine, adjacent to LKAB, just 3 kilometers from Kiruna center?

I encounter almost daily positive reactions from people curious about our progress in reopening Viscaria. Throughout the planning process, Copperstone has been transparent in a way that I believe has exceeded expectations. We wanted to create a sense of security for our stakeholders; they should be able to trust that we are open about our methods and goals. And yes, we will impact the immediate surroundings. The Viscaria area will be fenced in, snowmobile and hiking trails need to be rerouted, and there will be more activity within the mining area than today. However, Copperstone’s management is mainly composed of outdoor enthusiasts from Kiruna who spend a lot of time in the nearby nature. This means that we not only feel responsible towards our stakeholders but also have a personal interest in minimizing the mine’s impact in terms of dust, vibration, noise, and traffic.

“Our stakeholders should be able to trust that we are open about our methods and goals.”

How will the Viscaria mine affect the landscape? Will ore extraction be open-pit or underground?

We will conduct underground mining in all ore zones. In the A- and B-zones, there will also be open-pit mining to some extent. Below Ädnamvaara, west of Kiruna, new facilities will adorn the view: an enrichment plant, a new sand storage facility, and waste rock deposits. The waste rock storage areas will be designed to mimic the surrounding landscape, contributing to faster ecological recovery. The buildings’ color scheme will be nature-inspired to blend into the surroundings, and to the extent possible, we will preserve existing forested areas.

You will need to significantly increase the workforce – over 200 new positions need to be filled before the mine starts operating in 2026. Do you see any challenges regarding your recruitment needs?

The perhaps biggest challenge in our region is finding suitable housing. The housing shortage in Kiruna is still a bottleneck for many companies with recruitment needs. Additionally, we need more residents in Kiruna overall if community services are to be maintained at a reasonable level. It’s not enough to hire personnel if there is a lack of services such as schools, shops, and hospitals for them and their families.

So far, Copperstone has received over 400 spontaneous applications through our website. We see this as a high endorsement and confirmation that we are an innovative mining company that attracts interest. We have successfully communicated our values and ambitions externally, so I am not worried about our ability to attract labor. However, since Kiruna is a city constantly facing a shortage of skilled labor, retaining our most talented employees in the long run could be a challenge. They will have many career opportunities to choose from.

You have an ambitious timeline – the new mine is expected to be operational by 2026. What do you see as the biggest challenges to realizing that schedule?

Copperstone’s current timeline is based on our environmental permit becoming legally effective before the end of 2024. This is because it takes two years to build the enrichment plant, which is the most time-critical facility to have ready for the mine’s start. It will also take time to drain the old underground mine of water, as the volumes pumped out must stay within the capacity of our water treatment plant. All water from the old mine is treated before being released into nearby watercourses, known as the recipient. Otherwise, mining planning continues at full speed, parallel to the environmental permit process. Once we have obtained the environmental permit, we are ready to press the button for the remaining practical and physical preparations.