Terrafame has decided to apply the Finnish government for a permit to recover uranium 25.10.2017
Multi-metal company Terrafame Ltd. has decided to apply the Finnish government for a permit to recover uranium, in accordance with the Finnish Nuclear Energy Act (990/1987). Terrafame intends to submit the permit application in the weeks to come. If the government grants the permit, Terrafame estimates that uranium recovery could commence towards the end of 2019.
In Terrafame’s production process, natural uranium is also leached from the ore, alongside other metals, but the uranium is not currently being recovered. The uranium concentrations in the ore mined by Terrafame are low. However, it would be possible to recover sufficient amount of uranium for commercial purposes, using modern methods.
More efficient use of natural resources
“During two years of operations, we have rampped up the Sotkamo mine systematically. Our environmental safety is at a good level, and our metals production based on bioleaching is efficient. With recovery and sale of uranium, we could use the natural resources in the ore that we mine more efficiently without having to make adjustments to the ore mining or bioleaching,” says Joni Lukkaroinen, Terrafame’s CEO.
“In relation with nickel and zinc production, the financial impact of uranium recovery would not be significant, but it would improve Terrafame’s profitability,” continues Lukkaroinen.
The uranium in Terrafame’s production process and products does not cause radiation hazards to people or the environment as the radiation properties are equal to natural uranium present in the rock. The amount of radiation would not vary with starting uranium recovery.
Terrafame’s plant area includes a uranium recovery plant, into which 75 million euros have been invested in the past. If the company starts uranium recovery, the plant would require an investment of 10 million euros from Terrafame.
“Ramping up Terrafame’s operations has proceeded as planned and the company’s environmental situation is good. Considering the long-term development of the company, it is justified to apply for the permit at this stage,“ says Matti Hietanen, owner company Terrafame Group’s CEO.
Hearing phase to begin after submission of permit application
After Terrafame has submitted its permit application, the Ministry of Employment and Economic Affairs will request statements on the application from the municipality of Sotkamo, the town of Kajaani and their neighbouring municipalities, and several other parties. Private persons and communities will also have a chance to be heard during the processing of the application.
In addition to the government’s permission, starting uranium recovery requires approval from the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, a uranium sales permit from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, as well as a permit from the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) to transport uranium abroad for processing. Terrafame already has the chemical permit from the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) as well as the environmental permit granted in 2014.
Joni Lukkaroinen, CEO of Terrafame Ltd., joni.lukkaroinen(at)terrafame.fi
Katri Kauppila, Chief Communications Officer, Terrafame Ltd., katri.kauppila(at)terrafame.fi
Terrafame Ltd. is a Finnish multi-metal company producing nickel, zinc and cobalt at its mine and metals production plant located in Sotkamo. Our aim is to conduct environmentally sustainable, safe and profitable operations.