The Agnico Eagle Award 2019 was granted to a group of three teachers from Lycksele in Västerbotten, northern Sweden – Thorbjörn Grahn, Jan-Åke Unée and Eric Sjölund (who sadly passed away earlier this year) – for their strong interest, belief and enduring prospecting work that led to the discovery of the Fäboliden Gold Deposit in 1992 and the Svartliden Gold Mine in 1994.

The Svartliden Mine was in operation from 2005 to 2015, and the Fäboliden Deposit is currently being evaluated by trial mining. Both deposits are situated along the “Gold Line” in Västerbotten, northern Sweden. Through Thorbjörn, Jan-Åke and Eric’s prospecting work, the region became the subject of more attention from the exploration and mining sector. According to the three teachers themselves, in a 2002 article in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, they have been “persistent, stubborn, individualistic and also damn lucky”.

Thorbjörn, Jan-Åke and Eric’s strong passion for mineral hunting goes back many years. Eric Sjölund started to search for minerals in the early 1980s, and in 1988 he joined forces with Jan-Åke Unée and Thorbjörn Grahn and formed Lappland Mineral HB.

For more than 15 years they spent their weekends and summer holidays in the field with their rock hammers, magnifying glasses and compasses, and wore out many pairs of boots while prospecting for gold. They took courses and sent in over 100 rock samples after each summer. They had to take extra jobs as forest workers to pay for the analysis of their rock samples. For many years people did not believe in their prospecting work.

Finally, in 1992, their efforts were rewarded when they found visible gold in an outcrop that returned 11g/t gold.

Warmest congratulations to this extremely persistent group of prospectors!


The Agnico Eagle Award is given every two years to a team or individual that has made a significant contribution to the exploration of gold or the development of gold mining and processing in Finland, Sweden or Norway. It is awarded at the Fennoscandian Exploration and Mining Conference in Finland.

The award can be given in recognition of either a gold discovery leading to a mine development, research into and generation of new exploration methods and concepts, the development of new innovations in mining of ores, or for new metallurgical advances in the processing of gold ores.

The award is a stipend of 10,000 euro. The award winner is elected by a five-member board composed of experts of exploration, mining and processing.

Agnico Eagle Award Recipients:

Pasi Eilu in 2011
Esa Sandberg in 2013
Reijo Anttonen in 2015
Heikki Niskavaara in 2017