The Finnish government gave the green light on Thursday for state-owned Terrafame to extract and refine uranium in eastern Finland, paving the way for the country’s first uranium mining on a commercial scale.
The announcement by the government confirmed a Reuters report on Wednesday.
Terrafame is backed by commodities house Trafigura. It plans to produce uranium at a mine that has been producing nickel for years, and was previously known as Talvivaara, in the Kainuu region. Terrafame took over the mine back in 2015 after environmental hurdles had led the mine to file for bankruptcy.
“Getting the uranium plant operational will take roughly a year,” Terrafame said in a statement on Thursday, but noted the start could be further delayed by two years if the government decision faces appeals. They could come from environmentalists.
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.
Last year, 35% of Finnish energy production came from the country’s four nuclear reactors.
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%.
(By Anne Kauranen and Tarmo Virki; Editing by Susan Fenton)