Finland mine discharges 750M litres of waste water

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Heavy rain and melting snow have caused some 750,000 cubic metres of water overflow from the nickel and zinc mine in Talvivaara, according to the Terrafame Mining Company which operates the mine. File photo, taken April 2015. (Yle)
Heavy rain and melting snow have caused some 750,000 cubic metres of water overflow from the nickel and zinc mine in Talvivaara, according to the Terrafame Mining Company which operates the mine. File photo, taken April 2015. (Yle)
A total of 750,000 cubic metres – the equivalent of 750 million litres – of waste water will be discharged from the Talvivaara nickel and zinc mine in Finland.

According to the state-owned Terrafame Mining Company which runs the mine, there is a risk that water will continue to leak into the surrounding area.

Due to an increase in rainfall and melting snow, the nickel and zinc mine in Talvivaara, now run by a company called Terrafame, will discharge 750,000 cubic metres of water into nearby waterways, according to the company.

Terrafame said that it has contacted the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY) to inform them that the company is unable to comply with guidelines of the mine’s environmental permit.

The company said that if the water is not drained out of the mine under controlled circumstances there is a chance that the water could continue its flow into the environment.

Nickel and zinc mine’s long-term troubles

The Terrafame mine, is located in the county of Sotkamo, some 40 km southwest of Kajaani, whose ownership was undertaken by a Finnish state-owned company last August. The mine is under investigation for a series of environmental crimes and financial difficulties that nearly brought the mine to collapse in recent times.

In August the financially-struggling Talvivaara mine was handed over to the state-owned company and renamed Terrafame.

In August the chief executive of Talvivaara Pekka Perä admitted that the company had caused environmental damage as a result of a series of toxic leaks in the years leading up to 2013, but denied any crime had been committed.

The company’s communications director Olli-Pekka Nissinen said that the company’s move is prompted by the water situation in the area, as melted snow and rainfall flows into waterways in and around the mine. He said that the discharge is unavoidable, but deliberate.

15:35 December 21, 2015: This story was edited to clarify that the discharge of water started on Saturday, December 19, that the criminal investigation into Talvivaara’s suspected environmental crimes has not yet concluded, and to add Olli-Pekka Nissinen’s comment. An earlier version of this story referred to a ‘leak’–it has now been edited to clarify that Terrafame is deliberately discharging an extra 750 million litres of waste water, and it is not an uncontrolled leak.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada:  Canadian province of Quebec announces plan for northern development, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finland to save Talvivaara mining operations, Yle News

Greenland: Greenland pioneers Arctic tourism & mining, Blog by Mia Bennett

Norway:  Mining co. on bankruptcy brink in Arctic Norway, Barents Observer

Sweden: Relocation of Arctic town underway in Sweden, Radio Sweden

United States:  Alaska – Judge temporarily halts EPA process on Pebble Mine, Alaska Dispatch

 

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