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Terrafame granted environmental permit for battery chemicals plant in Sotkamo

The firm that took over Talvivaara's operations hopes to tap into the growing electric vehicle battery market.

Terrafamen akkukemikaalitehtaan paineliotuksen rakennus.
The Administrative Agency denied Terrafame's request to dump waste from the battery chemicals plant on site (file photo). Image: Milka Krogerus / Yle

Metals firm Terrafame has received an environmental permit for its battery chemicals plant in Sotkamo, eastern Finland.

The Northern Finland Regional State Administrative Agency granted the license to the majority state-owned firm on Wednesday. Operations are expected to begin this spring.

The permit allows the factory to begin operations immediately, regardless of any complaints that may be filed against it. They may be filed through the end of February.

CEO Joni Lukkaroinen told Yle in late December that the company plans to begin commercial production in April.

The company claims it will be one of the world’s largest and most sustainable battery chemicals production lines. It took over the assets and operations of Talvivaara, which was responsible for Finland's most notorious corporate environmental crimes case.

Up to 1m EV batteries a year

The plant will produce nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate, with ammonium sulphate as a by-product. It will be able to provide enough nickel sulphate for a million electric vehicle batteries annually, and sufficient cobalt sulphate for 300,000 batteries, Terrafame estimates.

The number of electric cars is set to multiply rapidly during this decade. For instance, the Finnish government has just announced a plan to boost electric vehicle usage, an area where Finland lags behind its Nordic neighbours.

No to waste dump on site

The Administrative Agency denied Terrafame's request to dump waste from the battery chemicals plant on site. Instead it must process it and deliver it elsewhere for further processing or recycling.

Authorities also ordered Terrafame to pay a guarantee of 200,000 euros to ensure the proper handling of the waste.

Improper waste disposal by the former Talvivaara led to serious contamination of nearby waterways in the past decade.

The Administrative Agency also imposed a strict limit on the level of noise generated by the factory.

13:48 Clarified that Terrafame took over Talvivaara's assets and business operations.

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