09.06.2011 | Author / Editor: I. Pöllänen / Marcel Dröttboom
Finland is currently witnessing several mine site establishments as the industry strengthens its position. Talvivaara Mine is a great example of how alternative mining methods like bioleaching can be economical and how determination and cooperation can spur entry into the global mining markets.
Talvivaara is a relatively new, large scale open pit mine project in the north of Finland southeast from city of Kajaani. Talvivaara’s mineral resource is 1550 million tonnes with 1121 million tonnes (72 per cent) in measured and indicated categories. The mined ore is further processed to nickel-cobalt sulfide, zinc sulfide and copper sul-fide. The ore body is estimated to support anticipated production for several decades.
The entire project has moved on quickly, considering the Talvivaara company was established in 2003, and the mining concessions and exploration and research data were gained in 2004. In 2005 a 17 000 tonne on site bioheapleaching trial was conducted, and an environmental permit was received in early 2007.
In 2006 Outotec (Larox at the time) was asked to quote for filters for the Talvivaara mine for zinc and nickel processing using the bioleaching method. The deal between Outotec and Talvivaara was closed in 2007, and at that time it was the largest single order in Larox History (now Outotec). In winter 2007 the pilot heap was reclaimed and the secondary leaching phase began. Mining of ore was started in 2008, and the first delivery of nickel product to Norilsk Nickel in Harja-valta was completed in February 2009.
Talvivaara is unique in many aspects as it is one of the largest mine sites in Europe, and one of only a few in the world using the bio-leaching method for nickel. It is a greenfield project that developed rapidly from the beginning. This has been possible due to the mine owners’ persistence, determination and long and thorough pre-work.
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