Interview with Markku Iljina

Coordinator of the EFG Panel of Experts on Mineral Resources

EFG’s Panels of Experts (PE) have been set up to provide high quality advice and information to the European institutions, to international NGO’s and to other global professional associations. EFG has currently 10 Panels of Experts active in the fields of CCS, Education, Geological Heritage, Geotechnics, Geothermal Energy, Hydrogeology, Natural Hazards, Minerals, Oil & Gas and Soil Protection. The Panels involve more than 200 voluntary experts from over 20 different countries and all aim at emphasising the importance of geology to society, the benefits of incorporating geological advice and to promote the importance of the geoscientific profession.

To raise awareness about the existence of these Panels of Experts, EFG is presenting its coordinators in a new interview series. In June 2018, we have talked to Markku Iljina, the coordinator of the Panel on Mineral Resources.

Markku Iljina

Coordinator of the EFG Panel of Experts on Mineral Resources since 2018

Dr. Markku Iljina has 30 years’ experience in mineral exploration and geological research. Experience includes supervision of field operations and conducting of exploration projects, participation in international research and mining community related projects. Past employers and hosting organisations include major mining and metals houses, Geological Survey of Finland, and private sector actors. Dr. Markku Iljina holds the European Geologist title thus engaged in performing his duties according to highest professional and ethical principles. He has also a Honorary Fellowship of the Geological Society of London and is the coordinator of Panel of Experts – Minerals in EFG. Dr. Markku Iljina is a passionate exploration geologist and specialised in mineral project initiatives.

About your field of expertise:

Could you explain in simple words what are reporting codes and why they matter for mineral exploration?

Reporting codes are instructions on how to report mineral exploration results, and mineral resources and reserves. Codes have been made and are maintained by various professional organisations, which have also established an international body called CRIRSCO (Committee for Mineral Reserves International Reporting Standards). Organisations have also mutually agreed to maintain their codes compliant with the CRIRSCO code. Reporting codes provide uniform and reliable information on mineral resources to public, authorities, and investors.

Europe is dependent on the import of many strategic minerals. Does the European Union tackle this challenge in an appropriate way?

The European Union has clearly wakened up to reality that the base for our sustainable development is endangered by lack of our own raw materials. The European Commission has initiated several programs to address this issue as exemplified by some H2020 projects and the Raw Materials Week. Some member states have also addressed this subject by updating national mineral policies. In respect to criticality of raw materials, above initiatives are, however, insufficient. Awareness is maybe raised among governments, but information to larger public is nonexistent. The next step should be to increase the knowhow on raw materials starting from primary schools and ending up to information campaigns to larger public audience.

How do you see the future role of geoscientists in your field of expertise, for example 20 years ahead from now?

I feel that raw materials related geoscience will include more and more material science in the future. This because the circular economy plays an important role in the raw materials supply. Geoscience will, if we are lucky, become the prominent branch of knowledge to cover all aspects of raw materials and circular economy including human and environmental welfare.

About your Panel of Experts:

Which role can the EFG Panel of Experts on Minerals play in the current EU policy context?

The PE on Minerals is a group within EFG and it is playing a key role in supporting EFG’s work in EU mineral policy making.

How would you define the added value of collaborating with experts from different European countries?

European countries are heterogeneous in terms of their history and national policies. Collaboration in a group of people with variable background and angle of approach should help in finding best practices and also to understand challenges in various corners of the continent.

What is your Panel of Experts currently working on? What are your further plans for 2018?

Actually, no topic on the table at the moment. I have just jumped in these boots and maybe works have not yet found me.

Is there anything EFG could do to support your Panel of Experts?

It is better to answer this once been bit longer in this position.

Your Panel involves less women than men and in general women are underrepresented in the STEM sector. What needs to be done to improve the gender balance in earth sciences?

That’s very true, there are maybe only five women in PE Minerals, and that is not a desirable situation. There is also no immediate improvement; we cannot grow the Panel to unreasonable big. The Panel will renew over the time and I keep this topic on my agenda.

About yourself:

Since when do you lead your Panel of Experts?

I started just few months ago.

What inspired you to become a geologist? Why did you choose the field of minerals?

My family and our family friends were enthusiastic outdoor people spending lots of time camping, fishing, and collecting berries and mushrooms. Despite of that I did first try to get into technical colleges and universities. Finally I ended up to one large natural science faculty, which had geology and geophysics departments. I do remember when I realized that there are professions in which outdoor life and livelihood are combined. The summer job as field exploration trainee after the first year in the university nailed my future.

What do you currently do in your job?

I’ve been a consulting geologist and conveyer of a small geoservice firm in the last eight years. The work has included planning, supervision, and running of exploration field operations and that has been enabled by a skilled team I’m lucky to employ for these tasks. My personal passion is exploration projects and mineral investment targeting.

More information about the EFG Panels of Experts