In 1977, two large ore deposits were discovered in eastern Finland.
These deposits containing concentrations of four different kinds of metals were mostly disregarded – they couldn’t provide enough of the metals to be of much use.
But in 2004, a brand new company called Talvivaara Mining Company (LON: TALV) obtained the rights to the Kuusilampi and Kolmisoppi deposits, and in 2007 the company obtained mining permits for the areas.
This company held a secret weapon to making the mines useful – it was with the process of bioheap leaching that they discovered much more of these metals could be extracted.
“Production at the mine started in October 2008 with the precipitation of the first metal sulphides,” the company’s website explains.
In the process of bioheap leaching natural bacteria from the area are used in oxidation to speed up metal leaching.
By this process, the coat of porous sulfide rock that is normally left behind in regular heap leaching is disintegrated, leaving behind much more area of the metals to be extracted.
This makes the excavation of polymetallic deposits possible – much more of the metals are extracted.
According to the company’s data, the two deposits near Sotkamo, Finland contain a total of 1 billion tonnes of ore: this includes 2.2 million tonnes of nickel, 1.3 million tonnes of copper, 5 million tonnes of zinc, and 0.2 million tonnes of cobalt.
Norilsk Nickel (LON: MNOD) signed a contract with the company to purchase their entire output of nickel and cobalt over the next 10 years at market price, the article reports.
In 2010, the company also announced the production of uranium as a byproduct of the normal mining operations.
The mines are expected to have an annual output of about 350 tons of uranium sold at around $40 a pound, says Wikipedia.
Just this year, Cameco (NYSE: CCJ) also signed an agreement with Talvivaara that will allow them to build a uranium extraction circuit at the mine and continue purchasing uranium.
The mines have an estimated life of at least 25 years, and they are expected to have an annual output of about 30,000 tons of nickel.
That’s all for now,