5 January, 2023

Finnish company plans to start extracting uranium

Terrafame, a Finnish mining and metal processing company, announced that it has started preparing operations for uranium recovery, which would make it the only such site in all of Europe. A specially designed recovery plant has been built at its industrial site in Sotkamo (Eastern Finland) and it is expected to operate at full capacity in 2026.

The move is sure to play a significant role in helping to prop up Europe’s energy self-sufficiency. The uranium, which will be recovered as a by-product from metal ore, will be used as fuel for nuclear power plants.

Although nuclear energy production is environmentally clean, it also ties Europe into a dependency on foreign actors. 85% of the world’s uranium is produced in six countries: Kazakhstan, Canada, Australia, Namibia, Niger, and Russia.

How it works

The production process will allow for low concentrations of natural uranium found in locally mined ore to be used as a by-product. Terrafame has a ready-built uranium recovery plant and is now preparing it for operational use. In total, the launch will require an investment of approximately 20 million euros.

After the start-up phase, the recovery plant is projected to operate at full capacity by 2026, producing approximately 200 tons per year, and employing about 40 people.

The ore excavated by Terrafame at its Sotkamo mine has a small concentration of uranium, approximately 17 mg/kg, as reported by the company and cited by World Nuclear News. Such concentrations are also found in other parts of Finnish rock, meaning the concentration is not particularly high. Ore with an average uranium concentration of at least 1000 mg/kg is classified as uranium ore.

The uranium recovered by Terrafame will be transported abroad for further processing, after which it will be used in nuclear energy production, The Mayor reports.