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Talvivaara Mine Environmental Disaster

Introduction

Talvivaara Mining Company Plc. established in 2004 and acquired permits to commence nickel mining in the Sotkamo area of Eastern Finland (Figures 1 and 2). Metals production commenced in 2008 and by 2010 the mine had experienced its first pollutant leaks, from the gypsum precipitate pool. This major leak (which also contained uranium) was publicly announced by Talvivaara two days after the incident.

Following the first leak in 2010, two other major leaks released pollutants into the surrounding area. The first of these took place in November 2012, and also involved a leakage from a gypsum waste pond, discharging nickel, uranium and other toxic metals and effluents into nearby surroundings and lakes. As the Kainuu Employment and Economic Development Centre pointed out, the company had used the gypsum for storing waste waters without a permit to do so, prompting the Minister of Environment, Ville Niinist√∂, to label the leak a “serious environmental crime”. Earlier the same year, a mine employee died from hydrogen sulphide poisoning in the area of the mine, and dozens of dead waterbirds were discovered in an open pond. Dust and noxious odours had dispersed over a wide area, travelling as far as 100 kilometres away.

 Click here for the factsheet (4 pages): FS_037_Talvivaara