Production methods

Production methods

Our production process is based on mining and ore handling, bioleaching and metals extraction. We are committed to making the most of the ore we mine.

Our production process is based on mining and ore handling, bioleaching and metals extraction. We are committed to making the most of the ore we mine.

Mining and ore processing

Ore is first mined at the open pit mine, then crushed, agglomerated, transported and stacked to the bioleaching heaps.

Bioleaching

The bioleaching process utilises microbes to extract metals from ore. Air is blown into stacks of ore and the stacks are irrigated with an acidic production solution. This creates optimal conditions for microbial activity.

Stacked ore is first leached for approximately 15 months at a primary heap. The stack of ore is then reclaimed and conveyed onto a secondary heap for final leaching.

Bioleaching is an energy-efficient way of producing nickel, for example. On the whole, the greenhouse gas emissions of the nickel production process are around 40%, sulphur dioxide emissions 2% and energy consumption 20% lower than average.

Metals production

Metals are extracted from the pregnant leach solution (PLS) and precipitated as sulphides in phases at the metals production plant. The final products are filtered and sold for processing.

Logistics

The final products are shipped to customers in by train or vessel. High nickel and zinc content in the final products saves logistics costs due to less material to be transported.

Uranium recovery plans

Uranium recovery plans

Terrafame is planning to start the recovery of natural uranium and its commercial utilisation. We submitted an application to the Finnish Government in October 2017 for a permit to recover uranium.

Recovery and sale of uranium would enable us to utilise the natural resources in the ore we mine even better without having to make changes to ore mining practices or bioleaching.


Further information:

Questions and answers about uranium recovery
Latest press release about uranium recovery