Terrafame, a state-owned special-purpose company, is seeking a new ruling from the Administrative Court of Vaasa on the drainage of waste water from the mine of Talvivaara in Sotkamo.

Information obtained by Helsingin Sanomat indicates that without the reversal Terrafame will not be able to take control of water management at the nickel mine and that the excess water consequently poses a risk to the nearby environment. The scenario would mark the end of the newly-established mining company.

Terrafame filed a statement of case with the Administrative Court of Vaasa last week. “We've proposed that the court reconsider its interim ruling and move the final decision forward,” explains Lauri Ratia, the chairman of the board at Terrafame.

The state-owned company would like to continue draining waste water from the mine in accordance with the environmental permit it obtained from the Regional State Administrative Agency for Northern Finland. The interim ruling delivered by the Administrative Court of Vaasa in early September, however, would reduce the discharge limits by 30–50 per cent – to unendurable levels.

“It's a very serious issue. Environmental risks would increase considerably even in slightly longer term. It would translate to very costly alternatives for the company under all circumstances,” laments Ratia.

The Ministerial Committee on Economic Policy is monitoring the situation closely.

Helsingin Sanomat believes the mining company is not in a position to set up the requisite water treatment facilities and, therefore, to continue the mining operations unless the interim ruling is amended or overturned. The nickel mine consequently has no more than a couple of months to relieve itself of the excess water.

“If the terms and conditions are too stiff and they can't be changed, there's no sense in continuing the operations,” a source familiar with the company revealed to the daily.

The Government granted Terrafame two years to rescue the operations of the bankrupt nickel miner at the end of the summer. The ramp-up of the mining operations has according to Ratia thus far proceeded on schedule.

Eeva Palojärvi – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT