28/06/2021

Terrafame launches ramp-up of battery chemicals production at the right time

Terrafame, a subsidiary of Finnish Minerals Group, has started the ramp-up of production at its new world-class plant.

Based in Sotkamo, Finland, Terrafame completed the construction of the battery chemicals plant and equipment testing during the spring. The ramp-up of further processing of nickel-cobalt has now been initiated. The new plant will be a major global player, and its main product is nickel sulphate, with a capacity sufficient for the production of about one million fully electric cars per year.

Pre-studies concerning the establishment of the plant were initiated in 2017, and earthwork construction work on the company’s industrial site was started up in 2018. In autumn 2018, the Board of Directors greenlit the investment, as expected. Background work on the investment included analyses of forecasts for global growth in demand for electric cars.

“The number of electric cars has grown worldwide at a considerable rate for several years now. Last year, Europe was the largest market for electric cars. Thanks to this trend, demand for battery chemicals and battery materials downstream in the value chain is surging and thus Terrafame is kicking off the production of battery chemicals at exactly the right time. This is a major step for the development of both Terrafame and the Finnish battery value chain more broadly,” says Matti Hietanen, CEO of Finnish Minerals Group.

Lauri Ratia, Chairman of Terrafame’s Board of Directors, highlights the extensive work the company has done on ramp-up, alongside the design and construction of the battery chemicals plant. He also emphasises how production at the new plant will affect the national economy.

“The battery chemicals plant is very important for Finland because the country is aiming to make the operations related to the battery value chain into a significant driver of the national economy. With battery chemicals production, Terrafame’s operations will account for, with all multiplier effects included, almost 20% of the gross domestic product of the Kainuu region and employ directly and indirectly over 5,500 people in Finland in total. The new business will also be material part in the total export of Finland,” says Ratia.

Nickel and cobalt sulphides are processed into sulphates

Production at Terrafame is highly integrated – all phases of production are carried out on the same industrial site. The company obtains the ore from its own mine and utilises bioleaching based on microbial activity to extract metals from the ore. Metals recovery is also carried out at the company’s own metals production plant. After that, the nickel and cobalt sulphides are further processed at the new battery chemicals plant into sulphates used in the production of lithium-ion batteries. By-product ammonium sulphate is used as a fertiliser or as a raw material for fertilisers.

“From day one, it has been clear to us that it is not enough to engage solely in metals recovery. By now starting up battery chemicals production, we can move forward in the processing chain and thereby increase the value of our products. Thanks to this work, our company’s profitability can develop even more robustly,” says Joni Lukkaroinen, CEO of Terrafame.

Lukkaroinen states that Terrafame’s supply chain is responsible and transparent, helping it to stand out in the demanding international battery market. Last year, the company adopted a Sustainability Programme for 2020-2024. It includes nine themes and sets targets for matters such as occupational safety, bodies of water, waste, recycling and energy use. In the autumn of the same year, Terrafame also published a lifecycle analysis showing that its bioleaching process-based carbon footprint for nickel sulphate is approximately 60 per cent lower than that of conventional production technologies.

 

Further information:
CEO Matti Hietanen, Finnish Minerals Group, matti.hietanen(at)mineralsgroup.fi,
+358 40 823 8806

 

The mission of Finnish Minerals Group is to responsibly maximise the value of Finnish minerals. We manage the State’s mining industry shareholdings and strive to develop the Finnish value chain of lithium-ion batteries. In addition, we are engaged in long-term technology development of the mining and battery industry. Through our work, we contribute to Europe moving towards electric transport and a more sustainable future. www.mineralsgroup.fi