Nickel miner Talvivaara falls on radioactive leak worries

Shares of nickel producer Talvivaara (LON:TALV) dropped down over 10% on Friday over reports the firm had failed to solve a waste water leak at a nickel and zinc mine in eastern Finland, where nuclear safety officials confirmed to have radioactive uranium levels 50 times higher or more than normal volumes.

A government minister has described the leak as a serious contravention of environmental law. But Finnish authorities, Reuters is reporting, said they did not see a risk to public health after taking samples on Tuesday and Wednesday close to the mine, about 30 km outside the town of Sotkamo.

Talvivaara closed the mine on Sunday after discovering the toxic leakage, the latest in a series of problems at the site over the past year including environmental concerns and the death of a worker in March.

The company said Wednesday the problem was solved, but Finland’s public broadcaster YLE later reported the problem had resumed.

While releasing the company’s interim’s yearly results on Thursday, Talvivaara’s CEO Harri Natunen admitted the company was still working on repairs aimed to minimize the environmental impact and normalize production.

“We have also built and are building more safety dams, which have enabled us to contain most of the leaked water within the mining concession area,” he added.

Canada’ Cameco (TSX:CCO),(NYSE:CCJ) has an off-take agreement with Talvivaara, which according to a press release from March this year, allows it to extract uranium as a by-product from the Sotkamo nickel mine, operated by  the Finnish.