The interest in searching for minerals in Sweden is still high, according to the Västerbotten Investment Agency. The number of applications for renewal of exploration permits increased substantially last year. A total of 353 renewal applications were submitted by exploration companies last year, compared to 304 applications in 2010, according to figures from the Mining Inspectorate.

Companies recognize they found something interesting and would rather go on with that find, than start looking for new interesting areas, said Åsa Persson, inspector of mines at the Mountain State.

The number of applications for new permits for exploration was slightly fewer during 2011, 191 compared to 213 in 2010. Gold, copper and iron are the prime minerals that the permits concern, but rare earth minerals also interested prospectors.