HELSINKI (Reuters) - The Finnish government will on Thursday give the green light for Terrafame to start mining and refining uranium at an existing mine in eastern Finland, a government source told Reuters on Wednesday.
The permit will allow Terrafame, which is majority state-owned, to become the first miner to extract uranium on a commercial scale in Finland.
Terrafame took over the nickel mine, previously known as Talvivaara, in the Kainuu region back in 2015, after environmental hurdles had led it to file for bankruptcy.
Last June, Finland’s radiation and nuclear safety authority STUK issued a positive recommendation on the miner’s application, paving way for government approval.
The government source, who asked not to be named, said Thursday’s decision was “just a formality”.
Terrafame plans to recover uranium from ore at the mine and refine it into yellowcake, a semi-finished uranium oxide product used to manufacture fuel for nuclear power plants.
The company has already invested 75 million euros ($82.5 million) in a uranium recovery plant at its mine in Sotkamo and plans to invest another 10 million euros to finish it, once it secures the government permit.
The start-up of Finland’s first new nuclear plant in around 40 years, Olkiluoto 3, was recently pushed back to March 2021, after already being a decade behind its original schedule.
State-owned Finnish Minerals Group owns 71.8% of Terrafame, while Trafigura Group’s private investment arm Galena holds 27.6% and Finnish insurer Sampo 0.6%.
Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Mark Potter