The Finnish government has granted a licence for the extraction of uranium as a by-product from the Sotkamo nickel mine operated by Talvivaara Mining Company Plc in eastern Finland. Canadian firm Cameco will contribute funding to the Sotkamo project in return for uranium concentrate. Production is due to begin in 2012.
A solvent extraction circuit will be added to the main production process to recover uranium that would have been a waste product. The operation is expected to produce up to 900,000 pounds of uranium concentrate (U3O8 equivalent) at full production. The licence is valid until 2054.
Talvivaara will invest EUR 45-50 million in the recovery of uranium, of which Cameco will cover a maximum of $60 million towards construction costs. Cameco will also provide technical assistance during the design, construction, commissioning and operation.
Cameco’s capital contribution will be repaid through deliveries of uranium concentrates and following this, Cameco will purchase all uranium concentrates produced at Sotkamo.
“We are pleased by this development as we expect Sotkamo will provide an unconventional new source of uranium supply,” said Tim Gitzel, Cameco's president and CEO.
Talvivaara expects to secure the remaining regulatory approvals needed to begin uranium production from Finnish authorities by mid-2012. The start of production is subject to, among others, Environmental Permit approval and chemical authorisation, Talvivaara said. Cameco's agreements with Talvivaara have been approved by the Euratom Supply Agency as required under the Euratom Treaty and also by the European Commission.