Materials to achieve carbon neutrality
The updated strategy of Finnish Minerals Group raises some concrete actions for promoting the electrification of transport and building a responsible battery value chain in Europe, writes Matti Hietanen, CEO of the company.
25. October 2021
Matti Hietanen, CEO, Finnish Minerals Group
The role of Finnish Minerals Group could not be more topical, inspiring and relevant. The mitigation of climate change, the electrification of transport, the energy transition and the rapid growth of the importance of the mining sector are creating great opportunities to develop the company’s activities and implement big European projects. The company’s strategy has been updated to better seize the opportunities that are there.
But we have not changed our mission – to responsibly maximise the value of Finnish minerals – which we are carrying out through three key strategic objectives.
Impact and return through investments
Our first objective is related to our role as an owner and investor: to achieve both financial returns and societal impact. As an active and adaptive owner, we help commercially interesting development projects to succeed and grow.
Our current shareholdings include three Finnish mining companies or projects. Once our subsidiary Terrafame completes the ramp-up of its battery chemicals production, its customers will have the competitive advantage of having the lowest carbon footprint in the industry. At the same time, the company’s improved financial position will increase its impact on GDP in the Kainuu region up to 20 per cent. The associated company Keliber’s lithium hydroxide project keeps gaining momentum and support from the locals, with the launch of production scheduled for 2024. And lastly, the new feasibility studies for our fully owned Sokli mining project are about to start, and we are maintaining an active dialogue with the local stakeholders.
Sustainable battery value chain
Our second strategic objective is to build a sustainable battery value chain in Finland. Our method of attracting investments is to offer battery industry operators strategic partnerships in which local talent and resources are utilised. Investments are sought to enable creating a new industry around batteries in Finland, while at the same time boosting value addition.
So far, we have announced four investment projects relating to the battery value chain. In Hamina, we are getting ready for the precursor active material (pCAM) plant with a leading Chinese operator, CNGR. For the value chain’s next production phase, i.e. the cathode active material (CAM) plant, preparations are underway for its construction in Kotka. We should be announcing our partner for the project in Kotka soon. The preparations for both projects have come a long way, and we are eager to share more details about the projects in the coming months.
In Vaasa, we are involved in two projects. With Johnsson Matthey from UK, we are planning a CAM plant in the GigaVaasa area, and next door to it, a battery cell plant with FREYR from Norway.
If implemented, these four projects will account for over two billion euros in investments and thousands of jobs – and this is just early-stage investing. As the market grows, we can already anticipate that the production capacity will need to be increased shortly after the early-stage investments.
Innovative business opportunities
Creating and seizing innovative business opportunities is our third strategic objective. We use our excellence in technology and knowledge of the industry to create business opportunities and deploy new technological solutions. We focus on opportunities that enhance responsibility and the circular economy and increasing the value-add of the materials needed in the green energy transition.
Four project entities are raised in the strategy as examples of innovative business opportunities. We aim to deploy new technologies for dealing with sodium sulphate in the battery value chain by utilising the know-how accumulated within the company since its first day of operation. By integrating the traceability of minerals into industrial operations, we make the value chains transparent and create the conditions for gaining a competitive advantage through raw materials and products that have been produced and refined responsibly. We are exploring various ways of using rare earth elements and developing the REE value chain. We are also seeking to add battery industry substitutes for minerals – mainly biomaterials – into our offering.
As you can see, our to-do list is long. However, our updated vision nicely summarises the above objectives and actions: Providing the materials to achieve climate neutrality.
I dare say that our strategy is exceptionally good. At the same time, I am aware that even the best strategy is only as good as its execution. Strategies are implemented by teams and people. Our success is based on ambitious professionals, who are committed to work together for a common goal. So, to successfully execute our strategy, all we need to do is start implementing it.