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(last updated 27 Feb 2018)
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)
Municipality approves uranium extraction at Terrafame Sotkamo nickel mine: Terrafame, the state-owned firm now running the mine that previously went bankrupt under the Talvivaara name, has taken a step towards getting official approval for its plans to extract uranium. Councillors in the municipality of Sotkamo, in northern Finland, voted by 21 votes to 6 to approve the firm's plan to extract uranium. The plan still requires approval from central government. (YLE Feb. 27, 2018)
Economics ministry seeks comment on uranium by-product recovery project at Terrafame (ex Talvivaara) Sotkamo nickel mine:
On 31 October 2017, Terrafame Ltd submitted to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment an application, addressed to the Government, for a licence for mining and enrichment operations referred to in the Nuclear Energy Act. Terrafame intends to complete the half-finished uranium recovery facility in the Talvivaara mining site and use it to produce uranium when the mine is in operation.
The project concerns the recovery and deployment of natural uranium obtained as a by-product of mining activities at Sotkamo. Terrafame aims to produce 150-250 tonnes per year of uranium oxide concentrate. It intends to start the recovery of uranium in 2019.
Terrafame asserts that uranium is present in small concentrations in the bedrock at the Sotkamo mine and that uranium recovery would be economically viable and would allow Terrafame to use natural resources more efficiently in its mining activities. A positive environmental impact would follow from the considerably smaller amounts of uranium in the bioleaching heaps, sedimentation tanks and current metal products.
Submit comments by February 28, 2018 (comment period extended).
> View: Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment announcement, Jan. 18, 2018 (in English)
> View: Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment announcement, Oct. 31, 2017 (in English)
> View/download details/related documents (in Finnish)
Ex-Talvivaara Sotkamo nickel mine obtains permission for laboratory-scale test of uranium byproduct extraction:
The Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) has granted Terrafame a permit for a laboratory trial to research the extraction process of recovering uranium. The same research will also cover the recovery of rare earth elements. Terrafame is prepared to do the research work in a pilot laboratory.
The laboratory research includes extracting a maximum of six kilograms of natural uranium from the main process solution through liquid-liquid extraction. The trial will cover only the extraction phase, meaning that the trial will not result in uranium oxide which would be Terrafame's commercial product once the industrial production commenced. (Terrafame Dec. 18, 2017)
Ex-Talvivaara Sotkamo nickel mine seeks permission to start uranium byproduct recovery:
The state mining company Terrafame announces that it intends to apply for permission from the State Council to recover uranium in its mine at Sotkamo.
In the mine production process, the ore also dissolves in addition to other metals, natural uranium, which is not currently recovered.
The ore content of uranium is small, but according to the company's estimates, modern methods would allow uranium to be recovered in sufficient quantities for commercial operations.
There is already a uranium recovery facility in the mining area with an investment of 75 million Euros. The plant has never been used previously due to the economic difficulties of the former owner of the mine, Talvivaara. If the recovery of uranium was to be started, it would require an investment from Terrafame of around EUR 10 million.
In addition to the permission of the State Council, the launch of uranium recovery requires the approval of Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, a uranium marketing authorization issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the permission of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) to transport uranium abroad for processing. Terrafame has already been granted the Chemicals Agency's chemical permit and environmental permit in 2014. (Helsingin Sanomat Oct. 25, 2017)
On Oct. 31, 2017, Terrafame Ltd. announced that it has submitted its application to the Finnish government for a permit to recover uranium, in accordance with the Finnish Nuclear Energy Act (990/1987).
Trial for environmental offences at Sotkamo mine now before appeals court:
Finland's most notorious corporate environmental crimes case returned to court on Monday (Oct. 9). The founder and owner of the Finnish nickel mine Talvivaara - as well as other leaders of the company - could face massive fines and suspended jail sentences in appeals court.
An environmental crime trial about mining company Talvivaara's past operations began at the Rovaniemi appeals court on Monday. Under scrutiny in the trial are the construction and use of Talvivaara's gypsum waste pond, alleged scheduled and uncontrolled dumping of effluents into nature, as well as issues surrounding the handling and placement of the mine's various waste components. Prosecutors claim that Talvivaara bosses committed their first environmental crimes as early as 2004 when the mine was in its planning and building stages. (YLE Oct 9, 2017)
Groundwater contamination at Sotkamo mine more serious than expected:
The Terrafame mining company, formerly known as Talvivaara, has rejected the terms imposed on it for a new waste storage facility in Sotkamo - just as details emerge suggesting that its previous leaks have had a bigger impact on local groundwater than previously confirmed.
The Terrafame mine in Sotkamo, eastern Finland, threatens to pollute groundwater in a larger area of the surrounding nature, the company's own reports reveal. The struggling nickel mine, formerly known as Talvivaara, was taken over by the state after years of serious environmental and financial problems. Levels of contamination of many metals including nickel, uranium, cobalt, cadmium, chrome, copper and aluminium in surrounding groundwater range from above-average to high. The company says it suspects the contamination is due to the Kortelampi reservoir and leaks from the mine's bioleaching facility. (YLE May 9, 2017)
Comments invited on environmental impact assessment programmme for Sotkamo mine:
Opinions on the environmental impact assessment programme concerning Terrafame's continued mining operations and their development or the mine's shutdown (the so-called production EIA) may be submitted to the Kainuu Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (Kainuu ELY Centre).
Submit comments by 23 January 2017.
> View Terrafame's environmental impact assessment programmme published , Terrafame Dec. 1, 2016
Ex-Talvivaara Sotkamo mine wants to start uranium byproduct recovery:
Terrafame, the state-owned company now in charge of the bankrupt Talvivaara mine, wants to start processing uranium at the site. There is already a plant at the mine ready to start the work, but permission would need to be sought from the government.
The mine formerly known as Talvivaara could almost make Finland self-sufficient in uranium, claimed the man charged with ensuring the operation turns a profit.
Uranium production would demand approval from the Finnish government and from the European regulator Euratom, as well as environmental permits from regional authorities in Finland and chemical licenses from the chemicals regulator, Tukes. Terrafame says it could produce up to around 350 tonnes of uranium per year. (YLE Nov. 18, 2016)
Comment invited on environmental impact assessment (EIA) programme for water management at Sotkamo mine:
Submit comments by 4 October, 2016.
> View Environmental impact assessment programme for Terrafame’s water management published , Terrafame, Aug. 26, 2016
Finland's Government throws another EUR 144 million at doomed Talvivaara Sotkamo mine:
The Finnish government announced on Wednesday (May 25) it does not plan to bail out the beleaguered state-owned mining company Talvivaara. Economic Affairs Minister Olil Rehn pledged 144 million euros of state funds to finance the shutdown.
Economic Affairs Minister Olil Rehn said Talvivaara's nickel mine operations in the municipality of Sotkamo would be shut down. Rehn said the likelihood of the mine becoming profitable were slim due to the current low market price of nickel.
The firm has claimed that allowing the mine to fail would cost the state up to five hundred million euros.
The 144 million euros pledged on Wednesday will be used toward keeping the mining operations going until it can be safely shut down. Further tax money is thought likely to be required when the actual shutdown process begins. (YLE May 25, 2016)
Court reduces charges, fines Talvivaara bosses for environmental crimes at Sotkamo mine:
The Kainuu district court on Friday (May 13) issued fines and toned down charges for three senior Talvivaara managers accused of aggravated environmental crimes. A fourth defendant had all charges against him dismissed. The court also ordered the company's now bankrupt Sotkamo mine to pay a 300,000-euro fine and 3.5 million euros in compensation to the state.
The court ordered incumbent Talvivaara CEO Pekka Perä to pay fines equivalent to 90 days' pay or 20,340 euros, while former chief executive Harri Natunen had to pay a 60-day fine amounting to 7,740 euros and mining operations director Lassi Lammasaari also received a 60-day fine totaling 6,540 euros. They were found guilty of a lighter charge of degradation. A fourth defendant in the case, division chief Ville Heikkinen, had all charges against him dismissed.
Talvivaara Sotkamo Ltd, the parent company's mining subsidiary located in Sotkamo, eastern Finland, was ordered to hand over 3.5 million euros to the state for the financial gain it earned from its activities. The court also ruled that it should pay a fine of 300,000 euros, a sum that was smaller than prosecutors demanded. (YLE May 13, 2016)
Talvivaara Sotkamo mine leaks 750,000 cubic metres of mine water:
Due to an increase in rainfall and melting snow, the nickel and zinc mine in Talvivaara, now run by a company called Terrafame , has leaked out 750,000 cubic metres of water into nearby waterways, according to the company.
The company said that if the water is not drained out of the mine under controlled circumstances there is a chance that the water could continue its flow into the environment.
In August the financially-struggling Talvivaara mine was handed over to the state-owned company and renamed Terrafame. In August the chief executive of Talvivaara Pekka Perä admitted that the company had caused environmental damage as a result of a series of toxic leaks in the years leading up to 2013, but denied any crime had been committed. (YLE Dec. 20, 2015)
Finnish government to purchase ailing Talvivaara Sotkamo mine: Mining operations at Talvivaara's Sotkamo quarry are expected to resume in September, following an announcement Friday (Aug. 7) that the government will purchase the mine from the parent company. The Ministry of Employment and the Economy said that a new state-owned body Terrafame Mining Company, will assume responsibility for the mine in August. (YLE Aug. 7, 2015)
Four Talvivaara executives on trial for environmental offences at Sotkamo mine:
Four senior executives of Talvivaara stand accused of impairment of the environment in a trial that commenced today (Aug. 4) at the District Court of Kainuu.
The defendants include the current managing director of the bankrupt nickel miner, Pekka Perä, its former managing director, Harri Natunen, and its executive director, Lassi Lammassaari. The prosecution is also demanding that a corporate fine of 850,000 euros be imposed on the bankruptcy estate of Talvivaara Sotkamo.
The charges are related to suspected negligence in designing the mine, applying for environmental and water management permits, waste treatment, designing the gypsum sediment ponds, waste water management and the leaks in the gypsum sediment ponds in 2007-2013.
Permit authorities have, for example, experienced difficulties in obtaining detailed information from the mining company about its bio-leaching and related water treatment processes. Talvivaara has refused to provide the requested information on grounds of trade secrets.
In addition, the District Court of Kainuu is expected to deliver a verdict on another charge of impairment of the environment faced by Perä for his decision to drain effluents created in the mining operations to the Kuusilampi open quarry in 2013-2014. (Helsinki Times Aug. 4, 2015)
British investor makes conditional bid for Talvivaara Sotkamo mine:
A British investment company specialising in corporate restructuring cases has tabled a conditional offer to purchase the beleaguered Talvivaara mining operation. If the deal goes through, government and proposed investor Audley Capital will pump an additional 200 million euros to reboot mining operations.
Audley Capital made the conditional offer to purchase Talvivaara's nickel mining operations in Sotkamo, eastern Finland. The parent company's mining outfit filed for bankruptcy in November last year. The conditional agreement was made with Terrafame, a wholly-state owned company hastily set up in February to manage Talvivaara's so-far shaky restructuring and efforts to find a new owner. So far the price tag of the offer has not been disclosed. The deal is expected to be sealed this summer. (YLE Mar. 12, 2015)
Talvivaara CEO charged with environmental crime: Eastern Finland's District Prosecutor Heikki Ylisirniö has pressed charges against Pekka Perä, the CEO of the Talvivaara mine, for harming the environment. The plaintiff in the case is the Kainuu ELY Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. Perä is being charged for a decision to pump industrial effluents to the Kuusilampi open excavation between 19 December 2013 and 31 January 2014. (YLE Feb. 11, 2015)
Talvivaara Sotkamo to apply for bankruptcy:
Finnish nickel company Talvivaara [Talvivaara Mining Company Plc.] said a subsidiary that holds all of the group's mining assets [Talvivaara Sotkamo Ltd] will apply for bankruptcy protection after failing to raise financing.
Talvivaara last year halted operations at its sole mine in northern Finland and started a search for investors after a drop in nickel prices, repeated production disruptions and environmental damage.
The parent company said on Thursday (Nov. 6) it would continue to process ore for now while it aimed to secure new financing to buy back mining subsidiary Talvivaara Sotkamo.
Jan Vapaavuori, the Finnish minister of economic affairs, said, however, that if no private investor were found, the parent company would possibly file for bankruptcy as well and the mine and processing plant would have to close permanently. (Reuters Nov. 6, 2014)
Talvivaara receives environmental permit decision for uranium recovery at Sotkamo mine:
On Apr. 30, 2014, Talvivaara Mining Company Plc announced that its operating subsidiary, Talvivaara Sotkamo Ltd, has today received from the Northern Finland Regional State Administrative Agency (AVI) an environmental permit decision relating to the whole Talvivaara operation and an environmental permit for the uranium recovery.
The permit decision is not yet final, but will only be applicable when the potential appeal processes have been completed. Talvivaara operates under the previously obtained, existing permits until the new permit is final.
> View AVI release Apr. 30, 2014 (in Finnish)
> Download environmental permit decision , Apr. 30, 2014 (3.5MB PDF -in Finnish)
The decision can be appealed to the Vaasa Administrative Court. The appeal period ends May 30, 2014.
Talvivaara still seeking license for uranium processing at Sotkamo mine: The Talvivaara mining company is still applying for a permit to extract uranium, but has made last-minute changes to the application. The financially-strapped company is no longer asking for permission to immediately begin uranium operations in Sotkamo, eastern Finland. (YLE Apr. 26, 2014)
Serious release of hydrogen sulphide at Talvivaara Sotkamo mine processing plant: A release of hydrogen sulphide was detected Sunday (Mar. 2) evening at the Talvivaara mine processing plant. There were no injuries, but all 60 workers on site were evacuated. Fire Chief Henri Manninen of Kainuu emergency services described the release as "serious". In March 2012 a man working at the site of the Talvivaara mining complex died after inhaling hydrogen sulphide. (YLE Mar. 3, 2014)
Cameco writes down its investment in uranium recovery at Talvivaara Sotkamo mine: "During the fourth quarter of 2013, we recognized a CDN$ 70 million impairment charge relating to our agreement with Talvivaara Mining Company Plc. to purchase uranium produced at the Sotkamo nickel-zinc mine in Finland. The impairment charge represents the full amount of our investment, which was used to cover construction costs, with the amount to be repaid through deliveries of uranium concentrate." (Cameco Feb. 7, 2014 - emphasis added)
Investigation report on gypsum pond leak at Talvivaara Sotkamo mine blames company and authorities:
An investigation into the 2012 Talvivaara mine leak in eastern Finland has blamed the company, officials and even the press for mishandling the accident.
The Safety Investigation Authority's report, published on Monday (Feb. 3), goes into the reasons for the spill and its environmental impact -- but does not take a stand on legal responsibility. It calls for better cooperation among authorities in the future -- and stricter surveillance of mining operations.
Some 1.2 million cubic metres of water and sediment containing heavy metals leaked, with about 240,000 cubic metres pouring outside of the mine area. The spill from a gypsum pond followed two earlier leaks. The report says that the pond's structure was probably weakened by these earlier incidents, but that the company did not check them carefully enough.
The report also gives poor marks for the official handling of the crisis, saying it was hampered by "decentralised, complicated and inflexible permit and monitoring processes" and by the fact that no single agency took a clear overall leadership role. (YLE Feb. 3, 2014)
> View Safety Investigation Authority release Feb. 3, 2014 (in Finnish)
> Download Investigation Report (4.8MB PDF - in Finnish)
Prosecutors considering case against Talvivaara Mining:
Police have turned over more than 4000 pages of documents to prosecutors from a preliminary investigation that could lead to charges against Talvivaara Mining for causing serious damage to the environment.
The deadline for presenting the preliminary report to prosecutors was shifted twice because of the massive nature of the inquiry.
Police first began the investigation at their own initiative into possible criminal charges against the company. Following a major leak from a gypsum waste pond at the company's mine site in November 2012, police also began investigating complaints brought by the Kainuu Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment and several environmental protection groups. Prosecutors will now decide if formal charges will brought, or may order further investigations before making a final decision. (YLE Jan. 10, 2014)
Talvivaara laying off almost half of Sotkamo mine's workforce: The Talvivaara Mining Company announced Wednesday (Jan. 8) that it will be laying off 246 of its 530 employees for an indefinite period. Talvivaara Mining says that the layoffs will support its corporate reorganization and adjust the number of personnel to the current operating scheme under which ore production has been temporarily discontinued. It added that leaching and metals recovery activities will continue in a normal fashion. (YLE Jan. 8, 2014)
Supreme Administrative Court revokes Talvivaara's uranium production license:
The government is set to reconsider Talvivaara's license to mine uranium, after the Supreme Administrative Court revoked the permission granted just one year ago.
The license to mine uranium was granted on 1 March 2012, and the court ruled that so many changes had occurred within Talvivaara since then that the license was no longer valid. Re-organisation of the company is ongoing, so the court has sent the license back to the government for reconsideration.
The license was appealed before the Supreme Administrative Court by seven private individuals and the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation . (YLE Dec. 5, 2013)
Operation halted at troubled Talvivaara Sotkamo mine: On Thursday (Nov. 14) afternoon, work by subcontractors at the Talvivaara mine was suddenly stopped and workers were asked to leave the area. This unusual turn suggests that the company's money is close to running out, and that a solution such as a bailout or bankruptcy is at hand. (YLE Nov. 15, 2013)
Experts ponder responsibility for Talvivaara Sotkamo mine clean-up in case of bankruptcy:
On Thursday (Nov. 7) the beleaguered Talvivaara mine announced it was in dire financial straits. Now environmental experts are concerned about what bankruptcy could mean for the environment.
Technical expert Tuula Pohjola says the environment could suffer serious damage if Talvivaara shuts down without a clean-up plan in place. She's especially worried about the management of large quantities of waste water in the mining area, as well as the consequences of possible flooding. According to Pohjola, it would take years to get rid of the waste water emissions. She is demanding an action plan to prepare for a possible crisis. (YLE Nov. 8, 2013)
Troubled Talvivaara mining company, owner of Sotkamo mine, faces bankruptcy: The troubled Talvivaara mining company announced massive quarterly losses Thursday (Nov. 7). The company said that if it doesn't get a quick infusion of cash it will consider filing for bankruptcy. In addition to its environmental problems, Talvivaara has been hobbled by modest production volumes and a decline in nickel prices on global markets, particularly over the past three to four years. (YLE Nov. 7, 2013)
Court orders Talvivaara mine to limit waste water discharges:
Mining firm Talvivaara has been ordered to limit waste water discharges. Vaasa Administrative Court ruled that the company must limit the amount of pollutants entering the Vuoksi water system to the south of the nickel mine.
The court ruled that emissions into the southern Vuoksi water system should be limited, as the southern waterways are less able to handle pollutants than the northern Oulunjoki water system. No more than 40 percent of the total permitted waste discharges can flow into the Vuoksi system.
The company will also have until the end of the year to completely drain its troublesome gypsum pond, from which a leak was spotted in 2012. The pond then started leaking again in 2013. (YLE Oct. 23, 2013)
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)
Report: Talvivaara boss suspected of environmental crimes: According to the commercial broadcaster MTV, Talvivaara's CEO and founder Pekka Perä is suspected by police of aggravated environmental crimes. The investigation is connected to Talvivaara's numerous wastewater leaks, according to MTV. The firm has caused several toxic leaks into the local environment which are already the subject of a police investigation after a complaint by the local centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. (YLE Sep. 10, 2014)
Report: Talvivaara mine directors ignored toxic-leak warnings before gypsum pond spill:
The Talvivaara mining company, which has sparked controversy with a series of toxic leaks, was aware of serious environmental problems in its vicinity as early as the autumn of 2009 – but failed to act to prevent them. That is according to an investigative report published on Monday (Sep. 1) by the Finnish online magazine Long Play. The article is based on police documents obtained by a Long Play reporter.
The proceedings indicate that the firm's upper management did not grasp the environmental impact of the massive leaks of sulphates and magnesium from the nickel mine near Sotkamo, eastern Finland. The article claims that the mine's then-director "did not understand that [the sulphate emissions] had any environmental significance". Long Play contends that some employees were worried about the emissions and tried to warn management about them, but were ignored. (YLE Sep. 2, 2014)
Talvivaara holds back report on 2012 gypsum pond leak: The mining company Talvivaara has not publicised a report on last November's gypsum pond leak at its nickel mine in Sotkamo. The company had commissioned a technical report from VTT, the Technical Research Centre of Finland, but has not shared the findings. Chief executive Pekka Perä indicated that the report had been completed but that the company did not want to release it. (YLE Apr. 9, 2013)
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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