Government receives new information about the possible uses of mineral resources

The earth’s crust in Estonia contains valuable mineral resources that have not been thoroughly studied so far, yet demand for such resources on the world market is growing. An applied research study led by the University of Tartu sheds new light to both these natural resources and the socio-economic impact of their potential use.

The study was conducted by researchers of the University of Tartu and Tallinn University of Technology in cooperation with the Geological Survey of Estonia, and covered both future mineral resources (rare earth metals and phosphate rock) as well as innovative uses of resources that are already in use (for example, peat). In addition, modern possibilities to valorise waste rock and ash generated by the oil shale industry were explored. Driven by the proposed idea of building a tunnel between Tallinn and Helsinki, also the Ediacaran sandstone on the northern coast of Estonia as a construction environment was studied. The work resulted in an analysis giving an overview of the “dead ends” and development possibilities in the plans of using Estonia’s earth resources.

Guide to smart policy-making

Head of the consortium, Research Professor in Geology at the University of Tartu Leho Ainsaar says that knowledge of the technology of using natural resources, the related environmental and socio-economical problems and useful resources in general has considerably increased in the world in recent decades. “This was the first large-scale applied research study into Estonia’s earth resources over decades. The wide scope of the study was a great challenge to the participants, as it covered geological complexes and the resources found in them, from crystalline basement to superficial deposits and industrial waste. The result is quite a good halfway point, from where it is possible to continue towards solving practical tasks of different level of detail,” Ainsaar explained.

Further information: Leho Ainsaar, Head of Consortium, Research Professor in Geology, University of Tartu +372 509 8624,