Ingmar Haga, the former managing director of Agnico Eagle Finland Oy and Vice-President, Europe of Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, who officially retired at the end of 2017 was recently celebrated with two events in his honour.

The first farewell party took place at the mine site sharing coffee and cake with employees. Ingmar received a traditional knife that was made by hand by Tarmo Kouri, one of Kittilä’s employees.

This was followed by a formal farewell party, where Pekka Suomela, the president of Finland’s mining-industry association, had the privilege of presenting Ingmar with the Commander of the Order of the Lion of Finland medal – a special honour that recognizes specific contributions made to Finnish society by civilians and military members. The honour was granted to Ingmar by the President of Finland on December 6, 2017.

Reflecting back Ingmar notes that when he first heard about Agnico Eagle in the early 1990s it was “a little business based in Canada.” Quite a contrast to today where the Company ranks among the world’s top ten gold-mining companies.

Originally, the Suurikuusikko gold deposit was owned by GTK. They subsequently sold it to Swedish mining company Riddarhyttan Resources AB from which it then was acquired by Agnico Eagle in 2005. It was at the start of the following year that Ingmar received an interesting job offer from Agnico Eagle, which was about to launch a feasibility study for the deposit.

When the Company first approached the municipality of Kittilä about building a mine in the region, the company’s proposal was met with a warm welcome. Ingmar explains that municipal decision-makers even visited Canada to learn more about the mining industry, taking an active approach that greatly impressed Agnico Eagle’s board. “Tourism was just taking off in Kittilä, but the local politicians wanted to build a stronger economy with another cornerstone. They were very open-minded,” Ingmar says, summing up the municipality’s response to the project.

“This is an unusual deposit – it just seems to expand. The ore body is complex and expensive to mine, but we keep finding new, deeper veins, which serve to increase the size of the mine reserve. This creates continuity,” says Ingmar, adding that, “About 20% of the company’s ore reserves are located in Kittilä. That’s why the Kittilä mine is important to the company and something that it wants to invest in.”

“However, our main resource is our dedicated personnel, who are all skilled professionals,” he continues. “The Kittilä mine boasts a wide range of special expertise in mineral processing and mining that isn’t found anywhere else in Finland or even at other Agnico Eagle mines,” Ingmar says in praise of the staff of the Kittilä mine. “What’s more, we have local managers and young, new talent at the helm,” he says.

“I worked in this field for 40 years and even though I’m happy about the next chapter in my life I will definitely miss the people in Lapland and their directness and down-to-earth attitudes. The years with Agnico Eagle formed the most important part of my career. I feel lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in developing this mine and to contribute to the Company,” Ingmar concludes.