Finland, Sibanye-Stillwater has received an environmental permit for the Rapasaari mine and Päiväneva concentrator at the Keliber lithium project

This permit has been issued by the Regional State Administrative Agency for Western and Inland Finland.

The firm submitted two separate permit applications for the Rapasaari mine and Päiväneva concentrator in 2021. However, the applications were subsequently combined into a single permit by the AVI.

The Rapasaari mine operations will involve the extraction of ore and waste rock, disposal of the waste rock, and water discharge from the area.

As part of concentrator operations in Päiväneva, the firm will undertake mineral processing, tailings and process water treatment, water intake from the river Köyhäjoki, and responsible discharge of overflow to the river.

In a press statement, Sibanye-Stillwater said: “The permit decision from the AVI includes a water management permit for the concentrator and the right to start operations despite the existence of any appeals.

“Since the permit decision from the AVI was published, Keliber has carefully assessed the 144 permit conditions it contains and on Friday 3 February 2023, made a submission to the Vaasa Administrative Court for changes to and/or clarification to six of the permit conditions.”

In the following weeks, Sibanye-Stillwater plans to start construction at the Keliber lithium refinery in Kokkola.

Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman said: “Our aim is to advance the project within schedule while ensuring our environmental impact is as low as possible while we follow the required processes to ensure all permitting conditions are reasonable, unambiguous and will be practical to implement and adhere to”, Mining Technology writes.

Resource Mining Corporation confirms high-grade lithium in Finland

Resource Mining Corporation Ltd has moved swiftly to acquire three highly prospective lithium and base metal projects in Finland after fieldwork returned high-grade results including nickel and copper.

The fieldwork formed part of due diligence to acquire Element92 Pte Ltd, which owns Element92 Suomi Oy, the Finland-incorporated company that holds the exploration reservations for the Ruossakero Nickel Project in northern Finland, Kola Lithium Project in central Finland and Hirvikallio Lithium Project in southern Finland.

A share swap agreement has been executed between RMC and ROPA Investments (Gibraltar) Ltd, the shareholder of Element92, involving the issuance of 40 million RMC shares.

Meantime, mining veteran Andrew Nesbitt will commence his new role as chief executive officer for RMC on January 16.

“Extremely pleased”

Resource Mining Corporation’s executive chairman Asimwe Kabunga said: “We are extremely pleased with the results from this initial fieldwork undertaken as part of our due diligence and now that we have executed the share swap agreement, we look forward to the next phases of exploration.

“We believe the three projects have shown there is the potential to discover economic resources of lithium and base metals, and we are working on the conversion of the reservation permits to exploration licences so we can commence drilling and other exploration activities across the projects.”

Showing potential

Skapto Consulting collected 179 samples from various parts of the projects and forwarded them to ALS Finland Oy for analysis.

Notably, the Kola project returned up to 2.4% Li2O, with glacial movement modelling indicating a large area of potential pegmatite within the central portion of the reservation.

Other highlights included 3.9% Li2O from rock chip samples taken at Hirvikallio, with numerous other pegmatites within the reservation containing anomalous lithium values up to 0.9% Li2O, which is higher than those recorded during previous exploration works.

At the Ruossakero project, a series of anomalous nickel-copper grades were recorded from grab samples taken within a small portion of this reservation, identifying significant areas of similar geology to the known Ruossakero nickel occurrence.

Highly experienced

Incoming CEO Nesbitt is a qualified mining engineer and holds a BSc (Eng) Mining and an MBA, and has more than 25 years of experience in the natural resources sector.

He has held various production and technical roles with De Beers and Goldfields and has carried out a number of feasibility studies across the world with the leading technical consulting group SRK.

Nesbitt is also an experienced investor who previously worked as a partner and portfolio manager for Craton Capital Pty Ltd, a global precious metals fund with in excess of US$400 million of assets under management.

He brings to RMC a rich set of experiences to progress exploration and enhance the value of the company’s project portfolio covering Tanzania and Finland, as well as managing funding programs and overseeing the listed company.

In progress

The Finnish projects are covered by two-year ‘exploration reservations’, valid till May 2024.

These reservations allow completion of initial, non-invasive prospecting work, including mapping, outcrop sampling, soil sampling and geophysics.

RMC has commenced the process to convert the exploration reservations to exploration licences, Pro Active Investors reports.

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.

Finland, Sibanye-Stillwater approved €588 million ($616m) investment to advance its Keliber lithium project

Precious metals miner Sibanye-Stillwater (JSE: SSW) (NYSE: SBSW) approved on Monday a €588 million ($616m) investment to advance its Keliber lithium project in Finland.

The South African miner said its board-approved capital expenditure program would start with construction of a lithium hydroxide refinery within Finland’s Kokkola industrial park. The area hosts a logistics hub from where the company plans to feed into the European battery sector.

With the operation, Sibanye-Stillwater aims to be the first fully-integrated lithium producer in Europe, targeting first production in 2024.

It will then ramp up to produce around 15,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide per year, enough for 300,000 electric vehicles (EVs).

The miner owns about 85% of Finnish battery chemical maker Keliber, which in turn owns the namesake lithium project.

“We are delighted to advance and grow our presence in the European battery metals industry through Keliber,” chief executive Neal Froneman said in the statement.

He noted the mine, which will mainly supply the European market, is forecast to have the lowest carbon emission footprints in the industry.

Sibanye plans to underwrite a €104 million ($109m) capital increase by Keliber by the end of January while at least €250 million ($261m) will be be borrowed to fund construction of the project.

Construction of the Päiväneva concentrator and the initial two open pit mines — Syväjärvi and the flagship Rapasaari — will commence once all the environmental permits are received.

The Syväjärvi mine is fully permitted, while the environmental permits at the Rapasaari mine and the Päiväneva concentrator are currently outstanding, Sibanye said.

Eyeing battery metals

The company, one of the world’s largest producers of platinum and palladium, also recently acquired other lithium and nickel assets in the US and Europe. With prices for those and other battery metals ballooning over the past year, mergers and acquisitions in the sector are less appealing at the moment, Froneman has said.

The proposed Keliber lithium mine consists of several advanced stage lithium spodumene deposits with 9.3 million tonnes of ore reserves and it contemplates the construction of a chemical plant near the port of Kokkola.

Once in operations, output is expected to reach 15,000 tonnes of battery grade lithium hydroxide a year during its mine-life.

Europe has a limited number of lithium mining and refinery projects under development, many of which are yet to secure financing or environmental permits, Mining writes.

Resource Mining Corporation acquires highly prospective nickel and lithium tenements in Finland

“We are already in early-stage discussions with potential strategic partners for the development of these projects and I look forward to completing this acquisition and finalising those negotiations which will add significant further value to our shareholders”, said executive chair Asimwe Kabunga.

Resource Mining Corporation Ltd (ASX:RMI) has executed a binding term sheet to acquire Element92 Pte Ltd, the owner of three projects in Finland: the Ruossakero Nickel Project in Northern Finland, the Kola Lithium Project in Central Finland, and the Hirvikallio Lithium Project in Southern Finland.

The company completed extensive due diligence activities on the target projects, including acquiring a large volume of historical data on the projects and the commissioning of an external review by Skapto.

Resource Mining Corporation’s executive chair and consultants then confirmed the review’s findings with a site visit that generated new prospective lithium targets on the tenure.

RMI negotiated all-scrip acquisition terms to the tune of 40 million RMI shares at $0.10 per share. The agreement is now subject to execution of formal documentation.

Search begins for strategic partners

“We are excited to have secured agreement to acquire this portfolio of highly prospective nickel and lithium projects in Finland following an extensive due diligence process”, Resource Mining Corporation executive chair Asimwe Kabunga said.

“We are already in early-stage discussions with potential strategic partners for the development of these projects and I look forward to completing this acquisition and finalising those negotiations which will add significant further value to our shareholders.”

The projects sit near other companies’ lithium projects, and are host to historical mines and known lithium pegmatite occurrences, giving RMI confidence in the tenements’ prospectivity, Proactive Investors reports.

Finland’s government plans to introduce a new tax on minerals extracted by the mining industry

Finland’s government plans to introduce a new tax on minerals extracted by the mining industry, the Nordic country’s finance ministry said on Tuesday.

Some of the European Union’s greatest known reserves of minerals used for batteries and other products are located in Finland where there are around 40 operational mines producing nickel, zinc, lithium, cobalt and gold among others.

Finland has thus far not collected taxes on minerals but the government now proposes introducing a royalty of 0.6% on the taxable value of metallic minerals and of 0.2 euros per extracted tonne for other minerals, the ministry said.

With the new tax, the government calculates it could collect annually some 25 million euros ($24.1 million), with 60% of it to be directed to the municipalities where mines are located and 40% to the central government.

“The aim of the tax is to take into account the nature of mining minerals… as non-renewable natural resources and to direct a reasonable compensation for their use to the society,” the ministry said in a statement.

The new tax, pending approval in Finland’s parliament, is planned to take effect from the beginning of 2024, Euronews writes.

Resource Mining Corporation advances due diligence at Finnish nickel and lithium projects

The company has identified numerous exploration targets from what it recognises as an “extremely prospective tenement package”.

Resource Mining Corporation Ltd is progressing due diligence at Ruossakero Nickel Project in Northern Finland, Kola Lithium Project in Central Finland and Hirvikallio Lithium Project in Southern Finland.

Upon review of exploration data, the company has identified numerous exploration targets from what it recognises as an “extremely prospective tenement package”.

In order to further assess the target projects, RMC proposes to conduct field exploration guided by results of a report from Skapto, specialists in geology and geophysics who conducted the review.

“Extremely prospective regions”

RMC executive chairman Asimwe Kabunga said: “Guided by the Skapto Report into the Target Projects, we are excited to now be preparing the initial field exploration program to further our due diligence activities.

“The findings from the Skapto Report and broader due diligence data review have confirmed the extensive presence of lithium and nickel targets within each tenement and we are excited to continue our due diligence exploration works within these extremely prospective region”

Data review summary

In July 2022, the full exploration data file for all Finland projects was purchased from the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK), and the review of this data is now complete.

The data has been analysed by Skapto and from this information, numerous exploration targets have been identified within this extremely prospective tenement package.

At Hirvikallio, high-grade lithium values were confirmed through the review and new targets near the Hirvikallio occurrence have been defined.

The extensive nature of the anomalies within the Hirvikallio and Kola tenements has meant that 18 targets have been defined and located within these lithium-enriched regions.

At Ruossakero, the company has confirmed numerous drilled and sampled nickel-copper-cobalt anomalies within the project and has defined 10 targets.

Forward plan

RMC’s fieldwork has commenced to geologically map, sample and test within all of the targets identified by this review.

What’s more, the vendor agreed to an extension of the option period to exclusively conduct due diligence and finalise negotiations, Pro Active Investors writes.

Can Finland and Sweden help decarbonize EU economies?

Demand for key metals is booming. Geopolitical realities and pandemic-related supply chain issues are increasing the pressure on EU countries to proceed with mining activities of their own to decarbonize their economies.

The European Union wants to decrease its dependency on Russian fossil fuels while accelerating its decarbonization effort. Metals and critical raw materials will play a pivotal role. Minerals, especially lithium, are most needed for clean-energy technologies. Relevant mining activities are concentrated in Asia, Oceania and South America.

Finland and Sweden, the two European countries currently applying for NATO membership, have a long mining tradition and could help solve the EU’s deficit, but question marks remain.

“We are the most important mining countries in the EU. Sweden alone produces over 90% of all the iron ore produced in the EU, Maria Suner, CEO of the Swedish Association of Mines, Mineral and Metal Producers (Svemin), told DW. However, that’s just a little over a quarter of what the bloc needs, meaning that the EU still has to import 70% of its iron ore, she added.

Finland and Sweden also share the mineral-rich Fennoscandian bedrock. According to Suner, the solid rock beneath the Scandinavian and Kola peninsulas has the potential to provide everything that’s on the EU list of critical raw materials.

The European Commission compiled a list of critical raw materials (CRMs) in 2011. Economic value and supply risk are the two criteria used to determine the importance of the materials. The list is getting longer.

Russia and supply security

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the major reason for Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership, and arguably, to step up mining in the medium term.

Svemin’s CEO says the focus on mining increased due to the COVID pandemic and ensuing supply chain disruptions, but more so after Russia invaded Ukraine. It has added to the increase in demand, pushing raw materials prices to a new high.

China is the top producer of graphite and rare earth materials. According to data from the International Energy Agency, it also refines 87% of the rare earths, 65% of cobalt, 58% of lithium, and 35% of nickel. Russia is the second-most-important country in the world for nickel extraction and the third-most-important for cobalt extraction.

“If there’s more support for mining activities in Europe, I don’t see that as a result of Russian hostilities. It’s more a question of whether Europe has woken up to the fact that it lacks metals,” Pekka Suomela, executive director of the Finnish Mining Association (FinnMin), told DW.

Current hindrances

Land competition is always an issue in Nordic regions with a focus on forestry. Increased mining is opposed by many environmentalists citing the need to protect biodiversity.

In March, when the Swedish government allowed the exploitation of the Scandinavian country’s largest unexploited iron ore deposit, Swedish climate protection activist Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for Future movement said Sweden was “waging a war on nature.”

Finland, Norway, and Sweden are the least densely populated countries in Europe, which might theoretically be a plus for mining activities. Nonetheless, many scarcely populated areas are protected.

“Almost half of the Swedish territory is reindeer herding area for the Sami people, the only Indigenous people in Europe,” said Suner. “But the area needed for mining is very limited and we know how to minimize the impact.”

Long timeframes

In the EU, it can take up to 25 years from the exploration phase to the start of commercial mining. Svemin has proposed 27 reforms, including shortening the permission procedures. Worries about the medium-term environmental impact often clash with long-term decarbonization efforts.

While EU member states are responsible for mining legislation, Brussels deals with aspects related to health, water and land usage.

The current geopolitical situation might increase social acceptance, but caution is needed. According to Suomela, the European Union must be careful not to put too much pressure on any single country to avoid local resistance that could easily shift public opinion.

Another possible future obstacle has to do with energy prices. They remain fairly moderate in northern Sweden and Finland, well below the levels reached in central Europe. But an increase in mining activities requires coherent investments in energy assets.

“The mineral and mining sector is planning for a tenfold increase in electricity use by 2050,” Suner commented. “Additionally, we have other projects for battery production and fossil-free steelmaking. Such projects are not covered by the electricity production we have in Sweden today.”

Neighboring countries

Estonia, another country bordering Russia, is active in the cleantech supply chain, hosting the only commercial rare earth processing facility in Europe. The facility is owned by Toronto-based rare earth materials technology company Neo Performance Materials. The company launched an initiative in 2020 to expand the supply of rare earth feedstock to their Sillamae processing facility near the Gulf of Finland.

Constantine Karayannopoulos, Neo’s president and CEO, told DW that the war in Ukraine caused refining companies to look more closely at their global supply chains. “Neo is no exception,” he explained, recalling that its supplier in Kola, the Russian peninsula, had been a reliable supplier for over 40 years.

“Geopolitical considerations are always a factor, but our primary driver remains customer demand,” said Karayannopoulos.

Right now, it looks like demand will increase. According to the European Association of Metals (Eurometaux), lithium usage in clean technologies could increase by a staggering 2,109% by 2050. Demand for dysprosium, tellurium and scandium is expected to more than double over the next 30 years, DW writes.

Outokump’s Kemi chrome mine in Finland targeting carbon neutrality by 2025

Outokumpu says it has established a roadmap to achieve carbon neutrality at its Kemi underground chrome mine in Finland by 2025. The roadmap includes several initiatives that will decrease the mine’s emissions towards zero. Carbon neutrality of the Kemi Mine is an important step in achieving Outokumpu’s ambitious science-based climate targets.

“To reach carbon neutrality, we have reviewed all emissions from the Kemi Mine and established a carbon neutrality roadmap to minimise emissions towards zero by 2025. Carbon neutrality of the Kemi Mine supports Outokumpu’s journey towards ambitious climate targets. We are proud that the Kemi Mine will be a forerunner on this journey,” says Martti Sassi, President, BA Ferrochrome, Outokumpu.

The three main factors to reach carbon neutrality at the Kemi Mine are the utilisation of carbon free electricity, using biofuels in transportation and machinery as well as replacing natural gas and propane gas with biogas in heating. Mining machinery electrification will also be extended to reduce the need for fuels.

Outokumpu’s Kemi Mine is the only mine in the EU to produce chrome which is an essential raw material in stainless steel production. Chrome from the Kemi Mine is transported to Outokumpu’s nearby ferrochrome plant in Tornio. The environmental impacts of the underground Kemi Mine are very limited due to the concentration process based on gravity separation without chemicals. Outokumpu announced its updated climate targets in December 2021. The targets have been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative and are aligned with keeping global warming below 1.5°C, IM writes.

Mawson Gold has received key planning and regulatory decisions

Mawson Gold has received key planning and regulatory decisions related to its Rajapalot gold-cobalt project in the Lapland region of Finland.

The decisions were handed down by the Lapin Liitto, the regional council of Lapland. The council voted 42-6 in favour of developing the deposit. The body also approved the participation and evaluation plan, which sets out the regional stakeholder engagement process.

“This is a watershed moment in Rajapalot’s journey from discovery to potential mine development,” said Mawson CEO Ivan Fairhall in a release. “On the ground, Mawson continues the important project definition work to support this transparent process to rezone the project area for mining.”

Certain parts of the Rajapalot property are covered by the European Union’s Natura 2000 network that is in place to conserve nature’s diversity across the continent.

“The overwhelming support for development of mineral deposits in Natura 2000, by the highest decision-making authority in Lapland, makes it crystal clear that Natura 2000 designation is not to be misconstrued as a constraint in the sustainable development of these strategically important assets,” Fairhall added.

Mawson acquired 100% of the Rajapalot project from Areva in 2010 for €1 million along with Areva’s other exploration properties in Finland. Gold and cobalt occur in two different host rocks, either iron-magnesium or potassic-iron types.

Inferred resources as calculated last August are 10.9 million tonnes grading 2.5 g/t gold and 443 ppm cobalt (3 g/t gold-equivalent). In terms of contained metals that is 887,284 oz. of gold and 4,836 tonnes of cobalt (1 million oz. gold-equivalent). The portion recoverable by open pit methods is 2.2 million tonnes grading 1.6 g/t gold and 396 ppm cobalt, and the underground portion is 8.7 million tonnes at 2.5 g/t gold and 443 ppm cobalt.

The most recent resource estimate has a 19% higher gold grade and 47% more contained ounces than the previous estimate released in September 2020.

The Rajapalot project includes eight distinct zones, and the growth potential remains strong, according to Mawson. Drilling has so far covered only 20% of the Rajapalot property, which itself is only 5% of the 100-sq.-km land package owned by Mawson in Finland.