Watchdog clears Talvivaara metal plant for continued operations in Finland

Image: YLEFinland’s Safety and Chemicals Agency Tukes has confirmed that the Talvivaara mine in Sotkamo can continue operations following the death of an employee in March.

Tukes shut the site at the end of March over concerns about workplace safety. The worker’s death was suspected to have been caused by high levels of hydrogen sulphide emissions.

Following an evaluation of safety improvements at the plant, Tukes said it is satisfied with the enhancements made.

Among other upgrades, Talvivaara has constructed a collections system for hydrogen sulphide emissions.

Tukes had previously given the mining company a temporary green light to operate on April 5.

The agency inspected the site last Thursday. According to Tukes Director Päivi Rantakoski, inspectors were not initially pleased with the recorded readings for hydrogen sulphide emissions.

“There weren’t sufficient indications to show that the gases were going to the scrubbers. We took more accurate readings during the day and we were able to finalise the report by Friday,” she explained.

The hydrogen sulphide gases are collected and channelled along a pipe system to a lye scrubber. The current must be strong enough to prevent the gases from escaping into the environment.

Rantakoski stressed that the plant would have been shut down again, if matters were not in order.

New inspection visit possible

Tukes emphasised that Talvivaara has only conducted the necessary, interim changes needed to continue operations and that a new inspection tour would take place during the spring.

“Before the end of spring stoppage, the company will evaluate the need for other changes. They will then provide a report, which will be the basis for judging the need for another inspection. This is most likely what will happen,” Rantakoski said.

The work safety watchdog is still investigating the death of the worker. That report is expected in June.

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