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(last updated 22 May 2013)
General · Harjavalta · Talvivaara Sotkamo
The following companies are performing uranium prospection and/or exploration in Finland: Areva NC, Agricola Resources plc , Belvedere Resources Ltd , Scandinavian Gold Prospecting AB , Yukon Resources Corp. , Cooper Minerals Inc. , Namura Finland Oy , Mawson Resources Ltd.,
For details, see: Ministry of Trade and Industry - Exploration for uranium (in Finnish) · Summary in English
For opposition to uranium exploration, see Uraaniton.org , Movement against uranium mining in North Karelia , Lapland movement against uranium , Northern finland's network against uranium mining and nuclear power (in Finnish)
Talvivaara mine stains river orange:
Talvivaara staff halted the latest runoff of waste water from the nickel mine in north-eastern Finland on Tuesday (May 21) after the River Lumijoki near the mine turned red and orange.
The discoloration extended several kilometres south of the mine.
The company blames a problem with sedimentation of iron at the Kortelampi neutralisation pond. "The colour in the water is basically an aesthetic problem," says the company's communications director, Olli-Pekka Nissinen. "Iron and manganese are very effective at colouring water." (YLE May 21, 2013)
Talvivaara Sotkamo mine resumes ore production: The Talvivaara Mining Company resumed ore production at the company's Sotkamo mine on Monday (May 13) after heavy rains and leaks of process waste water forced it to halt operations in September. (YLE May 13, 2013)
Protest interrupts Talvivaara AGM: Talvivaara Mining Company's annual general meeting of shareholders in Helsinki was briefly suspended on Thursday (May 2) after being interrupted by protestors. Police confirmed that five people were taken into custody and will be held for the duration of the Talvivaara AGM. (YLE May 2, 2013)
Talvivaara Sotkamo mine to release more water into surrounding environment:
The Talvivaara mine in eastern Finland is seeking a permit for the release of additional water into the local environment.
The mining company is seeking to reduce the melt water in the operational area of the mine to ensure sufficient capacity for water necessary to the mine's bioleaching process.
According to Talvivaara, the water can be pumped away without being run through their purification systems.
Talvivaara on Friday (Apr. 12) submitted another application to release the additional quantities of waste water. Talvivaara mine wants to drain around 800 cubic metres per hour of rain and melt water from the mining area through Torvelansuo's water treatment plant and release it towards Vuoksi in the south. Talvivaara already releases around 1,300-1,500 cubic metres per hour of water to the south from the Kortelampi dam. A secondary flow of around 1,000 cubic metres per hour of water would drain to the north, into the Oulujärvi waterway. This area already receives run-off of about 950 cubic metres, on top of all the waste water from normal operations. In a northerly direction, the pumping of water is around 2,300 cubic metres per hour and water purity is monitored by regular sampling. The mine's management say waste water will be neutralised using limewater in the north and 20 percent proof sodium hydroxide in the south. In total, the amount of extra waste water equates to around 4300 cubic metres per hour.
Talvivaara operators are justifying the additional output of waste water by saying that they need to prevent excessive water accumulation during their bioleaching process. The company states that the mine does not have a large safety margin for storing extra water.
The extra outflow will increase stress on northern waterways for the entire month of August to the tune of some 130 kg of nickel and 1,500 tonnes of sulphate. In a southerly direction, water ways will bear an additional load of nearly 2,000 tons of sulphate and 210 pounds of nickel. (YLE Apr. 15, 2013)
Talvivaara Sotkamo mine seeks permission to discharge more excess waste water after gypsum pond leaks: The Talvivaara mining company has asked for permission to discharge an extra 820,000 cubic metres of waste water, on top of the 1.8 million cubic metres for which it already has permits. Talvivaara has applied to the Kainuu Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centre) for a permit to release an extra 620,000 cubic metres of treated waste water into water systems to the south, and 200,000 cubic metres into water systems to the north of the mine. (YLE Apr. 10, 2013)
New leak at Talvivaara mine gypsum pond:
A gypsum pond at a nickel mine in eastern Finland is leaking waste water again. By early Monday evening, environmental officials estimated it was spewing 7,000 cubic metres of waste water an hour, and the Talvivaara metal factory has been shut down.
According to the Kainuu centre for economic development, transport and the environment, the new leak started on Sunday (Apr. 7) night. It is in close proximity to the leak that allowed waste to escape in November 2012.
During the day company estimated that 250,000 cubic metres of water has leaked out so far, with a further 370,000 cubic metres still inside the pond. (YLE Apr. 8, 2013)
The leak in a gypsum pond at the Talvivaara mine in Kainuu has been plugged. Talvivaara's head of production, Harri Natunen, said that less than 400,000 cubic metres of waste water had escaped the pond. (YLE Apr. 9, 2013)
High uranium levels found in pond near Talvivaara mine:
Finland's Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority STUK has measured high concentrations of uranium in a pond near the Talvivaara mine at Sotkamo. STUK has requested the mining company to investigate when and how the uranium made its way into the pond.
Measurements by STUK found close to 600 micrograms of uranium per litre in the mid-depth and bottom waters of the nearby Salminen pond. Surface waters were found to contain less than 1 microgram per litre. The upper limit for drinking water is 100 micrograms. (YLE Mar. 11, 2013)
Protests at extraordinary general meeting of mining company Talvivaara: Three people threw a smoke bomb into mining company Talvivaara's Espoo headquarters on Friday (Mar. 8). No one was hurt in the incident which caused minor damage. Officials said it was likely that the act was related to Talvivaara's extraordinary general meeting that was being held on Friday in Helsinki, where protesters gathered outside the venue to show their displeasure at the company's poor environmental record. A leak at Talvivaara's Sotkamo facility in eastern Finland at the end of last year caused widespread environmental damage. (YLE Mar. 8, 2013)
Talvivaara Sotkamo mine obtains permission to discharge excess waters after gypsum pond leak:
Talvivaara Mining Company Plc has on 12 February 2013 received a permit decision from the Kainuu Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment ("Kainuu ELY Centre") to discharge purified waste waters.
The discharge permit combined with the discharge quota in Talvivaara's existing environmental permit allow the company to progress with its water management plans as planned. These plans aim to prepare for environmental risks caused by excess water on mine site and in safety dams as a result of the gypsum pond leakage before the spring melt, and ensure that ore production can be re-started in July 2013.
The monitoring authority Kainuu ELY Centre permits Talvivaara to discharge 1.8 million m3 of neutralised waste water into the Vuoksi and Oulujoki waterways, such that 0.9 million m3 is discharged into each direction by 30 June 2013. Additionally Talvivaara can direct 0.5 million m3 of waters currently in the open pit into the Kuusilampi pond in the vicinity of the pit, and continue to discharge within the 1.3 million m3 discharge quota in its existing environmental permit. (Talvivaara Feb. 12, 2013)
Talvivaara Sotkamo mine temporarily reduces workforce after gypsum pond leak: Mining company Talvivaara says it's laying off 184 workers between February and June. The move follows a leak at Talvivaara's Sotkamo facility in eastern Finland at the end of last year that suspended nickel ore production in addition to causing widespread environmental damage. The company said it expects to restart nickel ore production by the end of June. (YLE Jan. 31, 2013)
Environmental permit for uranium production at Talvivaara Sotkamo mine will be delayed as a result of gypsum pond spill: The decision on the environmental permit for the uranium recovery circuit is expected in May 2013. The permit decision was previously expected in late January or February 2013, and the Company now anticipates a 3-4 month delay in the process due to certain further clarification requests expected from the permitting authority due to the gypsum pond leakage. (Talvivaara Nov. 28, 2012)
Metal concentrations have lowered in surface waters near Talvivaara mine gypsum pond spill, but in places remain harmful to aquatic organisms: On Nov. 30, 2012, the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE announced that during the past week, concentrations of hazardous substances in the River Lumijoki, and the Salmisenpuro streamlet in the immediate vicinity of Talvivaara, have become considerably lower, but still remain at levels harmful to aquatic organisms. In Lake Kivijärvi, concentrations of hazardous substances have increased in the hypolimnion, but in Lake Kalliojärvi concentrations have subsided. At this stage, the environmental impacts of hazardous substances are limited to nearby waters. In the main, the situation has progressed in line with previous predictions.
New leak detected in waste pond of Talvivaara mine: The Kainuu ELY Centre detected a new leak at a different location during today's inspection. It was found in the Kortelampi dam, which the company built to block the leak from the gypsum pond. The size of the leak is currently estimated at less than five liters per second. According to Ely, the dam is not in danger of collapsing. (YLE/Helsingin Sanomat Nov. 22, 2012)
Talvivaara mine obtains permission to resume operation of metal recovery after spill:
On Wednesday (Nov. 21) the Kainuu Ely Centre (Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environmen) gave the Talvivaara mine permission to resume operation. Mine operation had been halted since a gypsum pond leak was discovered on 4 November.
The permit was granted after an external evaluation had found the gypsum ponds safe.
(Helsingin Sanomat Nov. 21, 2012)
The resumption of operation announced on Nov. 21 only concerns the metal recovery plant, while mining and crushing of ore (discontinued since the beginning of September due to excess water in the open pit) remains stalled until mid-2013. (Talvivaara Nov. 28, 2012)
Regulators keep Talvivaara mine closed after spill: Officials have not given Talvivaara management a green light to recommence operations following their inspection of the Sotkamo nickel mine Monday (Nov. 19). The regulators have requested several reports from the mining company outlining the overall risks related to its operations as well as how it plans to mitigate environmental hazards. The supervisory officials will use the reports to evaluate whether or not the mine can resume operations. (YLE Nov. 19, 2012)
Environment Committee Chair calls for halt to Talvivaara operations: As government party chairs meet to discuss the crisis-hit Talvivaara mine on Wednesday (Nov. 14), Matti Korhonen, chair of the parliament's Environment Committee, said authorities should prevent the mine from resuming operations. "We must take care that the process is under control and properly supervised, before the extraction of metals is started again in order to ensure risks are averted now and in the future," Korhonen said. "Environmental emissions are unacceptable and cannot be justified, no matter what the economic situation of the company is," Korhonen noted, adding that Talvivaara was clearly responsible for compensating damage done. (YLE Nov. 14, 2012)
Protesters in Helsinki demand closure of Talvivaara mine after spill: Hundreds of demonstrators marched towards the Parliament House and Ministries in Helsinki on Wednesday (Nov. 14) afternoon. The protesters demanded the employment ministry to close the Talvivaara mine. (Helsingin Sanomat Nov. 14, 2012)
Uranium levels in stream water near leaking gypsum pond of Talvivaara mine more than 50 times higher than normal:
Water samples collected in the mining area on Tuesday (Nov. 6) and Wednesday (Nov. 7) showed uranium activity concentrations of 1 - 5 Bq per litre, corresponding to about 40 - 150 micrograms per litre.
On Tuesday, about three kilometers from the gypsum pond leak point north of the brook Salminen, a uranium activity concentration of 1.4 Bq per liter was measured, equivalent to 70 micrograms uranium per liter. This is around 50 - 80 times higher than before the spill. On Wednesday, the corresponding figure of the uranium content was still tripled there. (STUK Nov. 9, 2012)
The funnel-shaped hole was plugged up Thursday night, but it started to leak again on Friday morning. (Helsingin Sanomat Nov. 9, 2012)
The Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) has analyzed the water samples taken on Nov. 11 from the Snow River on the southern side of Talvivaara's mining site. Nickel and zinc concentrations exceed the values that are harmful to organisms tenfold or even a hundredfold, uranium concentrations more than tenfold. Cadmium concentrations exceed the standard for short-term exposure. (SYKE Nov. 13, 2012)
The uranium concentrations measured by SYKE reached 350 micrograms per litre. (STUK Nov. 13, 2012)
Ministry chief after spill: Talvivaara mine should be shut down: On Wednesday (Nov. 7) evening, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, Erkki Virtanen, said that the company's operations cannot continue before further studies are completed. He said that the readings now being found from waste water indicate that the environmental permits issued were incorrect for its current operations. For instance, he says, sulphate levels are much higher than those stipulated by the mine's environmental permits. (YLE Nov. 8, 2012)
Mine water with high uranium levels spills through leak in gypsum pond of Talvivaara mine:
"A leakage in the gypsum pond of the mine site of Talvivaara Mining Company Plc was detected at 7.30 am (Finnish time) on Sunday 4 November 2012. The levees of the pond are intact, but water is filtering through the lower part of the levee on the east side of the pond." (Talvivaara Nov. 5, 2012)
The spill continues at rates of 100 - 200 liters per second. The precise location and the cause of the leak have not been identified yet. (ILTALEHTI Nov. 6, 2012)
According to provisional estimates, uranium activity concentrations of 100 - 200 Bq [4,000 - 8,000 micrograms] per litre are found in mine water currently being released from a leak in a gypsum pond at the Talvivaara mine. Precise results will be available only on Friday (Nov. 9), at the earliest. Finland does not have a standard for uranium in waste waters. The Finnish drinking water standard is 3 Bq per litre [120 micrograms per litre]. (STUK Nov. 7, 2012)
"Talvivaara Mining Company Plc has located the gypsum pond leakage detected on Sunday morning 4 November 2012 near the center of the approximately 60-hectare pond. The process of plugging has been initiated and as a result, the flow has already substantially diminished. As a result of the leakage, some elevated nickel concentrations have been detected in the northerly direction in the vicinity of the mining concession area. No leakage waters have been discharged from the mining concession area towards south as a consequence of the emergency dams and the measures taken." (Talvivaara Nov. 7, 2012)
Hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of waste water have leaked since Sunday, some flowing out of the mine area into the surrounding nature. The leak has been partially repaired, so that waste water is no longer flowing northward out of the plant area. However there is still a southbound flow. (YLE Nov. 8, 2012)
Environmental permit for Talvivaara Sotkamo uranium byproduct recovery delayed due to appeals: Finnish miner Talvivaara will have to wait longer than expected for an environmental permit to extract uranium at its mine in eastern Finland, news agency STT reported on Monday (Oct. 8), raising the risk of delays to its production plans. The report said Talvivaara will need to wait until early next year for the permit, although the local agency had previously said it would decide on the permits this year. The process has been slowed down by 150 appeals from citizens and non-governmental organisations, the report said. (Reuters Oct. 8, 2012)
Talvivaara plans massive expansion of Sotkamo mine:
The controversial Talvivaara mine in Sotkamo in the north of Finland is planning a massive expansion of its mining operations. The mine, which has been under fire for excessive emissions, has launched a new environmental impact evaluation process aimed at getting authorisation for an expansion from the present 60 square kilometres to 134 square kilometres.
Plans are for a new bioheapleaching heap where metal is separated from the ore through bacterial action. The heap is to be five kilometres in length and width and eight metres high, and it would remain in the area even after the mine shuts down. Under the proposal, nickel production would increase fivefold to more than 100,000 tons a year. The investment of about EUR one billion would bring 1,000 new jobs to the mine, in addition to the present 505 jobs, as the nickel would be more thoroughly refined on the spot than is the case now. (Helsingin Sanomat Sep. 19, 2012)
Municipality wants tougher conditions for Talvivaara Sotkamo mine permit:
The municipality of Sotkamo in Kainuu wants more stringent conditions to be placed on the mining permit for the Talvivaara mine, which has been the source of unexpectedly high amounts of toxic emissions into local waters.
A proposal coming before the Sotkamo Municipal Board, states that the capacity of the waters to absorb sodium, sulphate, and manganese need to be considered when setting maximum amounts in the permit.
Sotkamo also wants reconsideration of decisions to allow the extraction of water from the Nuasjärvi lake, as well as inspections of the bottom structures of piles of ore and pools of liquid, and the cleaning out of the bottoms of process pools. The proposal also calls for environmental investments within certain time limits, as well as the construction of safety structures to protect against the effects of flooding. The proposal would ban bringing in uranium ore to Sotkamo from other mines, although it does not oppose the processing of ore extracted from the Talvivaara mine.
A reassessment of the environmental and water permits for the Talvivaara mine and an application for a uranium extraction facility at the mine are currently being processed at the Regional State Administrative Agency of Northern Finland. The Talvivaara mining complex has come under fire for significantly higher waste water emissions into the local waterway than originally expected. (Helsingin Sanomat Sep. 10, 2012)
Finnish regulator issues favourable opinion on expansion of Talvivaara Sotkamo uranium byproduct recovery project:
On April 27, 2012, the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) issued a favourable opinion on the expansion of mining uranium recovery plant at the Talvivaara Sotkamo nickel mine.
The opinion states that even after the expansion of mining the uranium recovery plant would not have harmful radiological effects on the environment, the recovery of uranium being in compliance with the best available techniques and best environmental practice.
> Download STUK opinion April 27, 2012 (in Finnish)
Activists appeal license issued for uranium byproduct recovery at Talvivaara Sotkamo nickel mine:
Environmentalists are to appeal a government decision granting the Talvivaara Mining Company permission to produce uranium in Kainuu. The government gave a permit for the operation at the start of this month. The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (SLL) is asking the Supreme Court to overturn the decision, claiming it violates Finland's law on nuclear energy.
SLL points out that according to the nuclear energy legislation, companies should ensure their operations are safe and do not harm the environment. The association's chair Risto Sulkava says that local lakes have suffered an elevated saline content because of discharges from the mine. The company's permit application indicates that consumption of caustic soda and sulphuric acid at the mine would rise by about ten percent. If discharges were to similarly increase, salination problems in the area could worsen.
Talvivaara must clear further bureaucratic hurdles before uranium production can begin, including acquisition of an environmental permit. (YLE March 28, 2012)
Protesters picket Talvivaara Mining Company general meeting:
A group of about 40 protesters carrying signs and banners against the mining of uranium gathered on Tuesday (March 13) in front of the Marina Congress Center in Katajanokka in downtown Helsinki, where an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders of the Talvivaara Mining Company was taking place.
The Talvivaara mine in the northern rural community of Sotkamo, mainly produces nickel. It has been blamed for the serious contamination of waters in the area. Shareholders arriving the meeting were given leaflets urging that money raised in an extraordinary share issue should be used on fixing environmental damage by the company's mining operations. They also want the Talvivaara mine to suspend operations until a solution has been found to the damage inflicted on the water there. The protesters focused on the extraction of uranium, for which the government has given its blessing. (Helsingin Sanomat Mar. 13, 2012)
License issued for uranium byproduct recovery at Talvivaara Sotkamo nickel mine:
On March 1, 2012, Talvivaara Mining Company Plc announced that it was granted licence to extract uranium as a by-product from its existing operations. The permit is valid throughout the life of the mine, however, no longer than until the end of 2054.
Talvivaara's aim is to start uranium recovery in 2012, as soon as it has all the necessary permits. The start of uranium production is further subject to, among others, Environmental Permit approval and chemical authorisation. The Environmental Permit application for uranium extraction was submitted to the Regional Environmental Permitting Agency in March 2011 and the decision on the permit is expected during Q2 2012.
Talvivaara estimates that it will produce 300-350 tpa of uranium. Talvivaara will invest EUR 45-50 million in the recovery of uranium, of which Cameco will cover a maximum of USD 60 million in the form of advance payments.
Environmental permit and start-up of Talvivaara mine uranium recovery plant approved, despite appeal:
In the view of the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK), the uranium recovery process can be carried out so that the exposure of the environment and its inhabitants from radiation is very low.
> Download STUK opinion Jan. 20, 2012 (in Finnish)
Talvivaara mine to stop waste water emissions into environment:
The Talvivaara nickel mine in Sotkamo said on Wednesday (Jan. 18) that it would stop all toxic emissions of water used in the mine's processes.
Emissions from the mine have been seen to cause considerable environmental damage to local waters.
In 2010 the waste water from the mine contained amounts of sulphates and manganese that considerably exceeded the maximum limits. “Big changes in processes will take place within a couple of weeks”, says Veli-Matti Hilla, environment chief at the mine. However, he emphasises that it would be almost a year before the extraction of water from the local waterway and the discharge of waste water from the mine can stop completely.
The metal is extracted from the ore at the Talvivaara mine through a process called Bioheapleaching. The water used in the process is to be recycled in the future. Talvivaara also promises to improve its dissemination of information to residents in the area. In a blog opened on Wednesday, the mine's CEO Pekka Perä admits that “mistakes have been made, and we need to learn from them”.
On Wednesday Talvivaara was granted permission by the European Commission to extract uranium at the Sotkamo mine. (Helsingin Sanomat Jan. 19, 2012)
Finnish police investigate Talvivaara Sotkamo mine's waste water discharge:
Finnish police are probing whether miner Talvivaara broke the law when discharging waste water with high levels of sodium, sulphate and manganese into lakes near its nickel mine in eastern Finland.
The police investigation could delay Talvivaara's plans to expand production and extract uranium as a by-product.
The authority overseeing Talvivaara's operations said waste water samples in 2010 showed that high concentrations of sulphate, sodium and manganese had turned a nearby freshwater lake salty. (Reuters Nov. 14, 2011)
Talvivaara Sotkamo uranium byproduct project obtains government permission: On June 15, 2011, the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) announced that it has granted to Talvivaara Sotkamo Ltd permission under the Nuclear Energy Act for the recovery of uranium.
Cameco to finance construction of uranium byproduct plant at Talvivaara Sotkamo nickel/zinc mine and to buy uranium produced:
Cameco has signed two agreements to buy uranium produced at the Sotkamo nickel-zinc mine in eastern Finland owned by the Talvivaara Mining Company Plc.
Talvivaara plans to start construction of the uranium extraction circuit in the coming months and complete it in 2012.
Talvivaara expects production of uranium at the Sotkamo mine to be approximately 900,000 pounds (U3O8 equivalent) or 350 tU per year once the mine ramps up to full production.
Under the first agreement with Talvivaara, Cameco will provide an up-front investment, to a maximum of $60 million (US), to cover the construction cost of the uranium extraction circuit. Cameco's capital contribution will be repaid through the initial deliveries of uranium concentrates under the first agreement.
Once the capital is repaid, Cameco will purchase the uranium concentrates produced at Sotkamo through a second agreement that ends on December 31, 2027. (Cameco Feb. 7, 2011)
Talvivaara applies for permit for by-product extraction of uranium at Sotkamo nickel/zinc mine: On Apr. 20, 2010, Talvivaara Mining Company Plc announced that its operating subsidiary Talvivaara Sotkamo Ltd has lodged an application in accordance with the Nuclear Energy Act to the Ministry of Employment and Economy for the extraction of uranium as a by-product. Preparations for the environmental impact assessment relating to the uranium extraction process have also commenced at the mine site.
Finnish nickel/zinc miner plans uranium byproduct extraction:
Finnish nickel and zinc miner Talvivaara Mining Company Plc is planning to invest EUR 30 million to modify its current production processes to allow it to recover yellow cake, it announced on Tuesday (Feb. 9).
The company said that it was investigating the potential of recovering uranium intermediate, or yellow cake, which was found as a byproduct of other metals, from the orebodies it mined.
Currently, small concentrations of uranium were deposited in an engineered gypsum pond intended for process precipitations.
However, Talvivaara was planning to recover the uranium from its main leaching process by using a solvent extraction process.
Talvivaara was preparing the necessary documentation for permit applications and was holding talks with other companies regarding a possible cooperation agreement for the project. It would decide on a financing and operating model subsequent to concluding its discussions. The production costs to extract the yellow cake would amount to about EUR 2 million a year, with an expected output of about 350 t/y. (Mining Weekly Feb. 9, 2010)
Uranium grade in the ore is on the average 15-20 ppm (0.0015-0.0020%). Uranium concentration in the leach solution is low, approximately 25 mg/l, but sufficient for exploitation through the solvent extraction process developed by Talvivaara and its partners. Estimated capital expenditure is approx. EUR 30 million. The planned production will make Finland almost self-sufficient in uranium. (Talvivaara Feb. 9, 2010)
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