On 9 January, 2018 Terrafame Group Ltd., a partner of EIT RawMaterials, announced the launch of two new research projects in 2018 funded by the European Commission, with a total budget of EUR 17 million. The projects, called SO4Control and NEMO, will continue developing the concepts resulting from project Ariel which was led by Terrafame Group and was completed at the end of 2017. In 2015, the state-owner gave Terrafame Ltd.’s parent company Terrafame Group Ltd. a mandate to launch a water management development and pilot project named Ariel. The goal of the project was to support Terrafame in sulphate management, a considerable challenge at the time.
Three main concepts to develop Terrafame’s production process and control sulphate levels were identified in project Ariel, launched in November 2015:
- A process optimisation concept where sulphate levels could be reduced by improving membrane purification, among others. Improved chemical efficiency would also generate cost savings. The procedures included in the concept would not require significant investments in the Terrafame process or new permits. Measures to optimise water management have already been taken as part of Terrafame’s operational development projects.
- A recycling concept where the sulphate would be returned to the production process to replace current chemicals. This option has included developing the biological and electrochemical treatment of sulphate. Both options would generate products that can be used to partially replace the chemicals used in the production process. Of these options, a recycling concept based on biological treatment has been taken to a pilot phase. The concept would require, for example, an investment into a bioreactor as well as additions to the environmental permit.
- A recovery concept where sulphates could be recovered, for example, as fertiliser raw materials. This option would require replacing the lye used in bioleaching with an alternative alkali. Implementing the sulphate recovery concept would require significant changes to the current production process, major investments and an extensive environmental permitting process.
Each of these options would require different levels of investments into Terrafame’s production process. The development of the conceptual solutions described above and investigation of their feasibility will continue in two EU-funded projects starting in 2018.
“The Ariel project has created a solid base for further development of Terrafame’s production and environmental technology. The EU projects beginning in 2018 are a natural and very important continuation of the work that has been done. The projects are a significant investment on EU’s part, signalling that the development work carried out by the Terrafame Group is aligned with EU’s raw materials policy,” says chair of the Ariel project’s steering group Päivi Kinnunen from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.
SO4Control – Scale-up of Solution for Mining Water Sulphate Control with Side-product Recovery
SO4Control, a project funded by EIT RawMaterials, will commence in the spring of 2018. It is a three-year project with a funding of EUR 2 million secured.
The SO4Control project continues to research and develop the sulphate recycling concept commenced in the Ariel project. It will expand an economically viable solution for treating sulphate containing mining effluents with the help of a bioreactor to a larger scale. The project also aims to generate by-products from sulphate containing effluents for commercial use. The SO4Control will also include the development of bioleaching and membrane technologies. The project partners come from Finland, Germany and Sweden.
SO4Control project partner members:
- Terrafame Group Oy (Lead Partner)
- Aalto-Korkeakoulusaatio (Aalto University)
- DMT GmbH & Co. KG
- LTU Business AB
- Miljötekniskt Center AB (MTC)
- RISE Research Institutes of Sweden Holding AB
- Skyscape Ltd
- Spinverse Innovation Management Oy
- Sulfator Ltd
- Teknologian tutkimuskeskus VTT (Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. VTT)
Jani Kiuru, Chief of Research of Terrafame Group Ltd., tel. +358 40 823 8471
Matti Hietanen, CEO of Terrafame Group Ltd., tel. +358 40 823 8806
About Terrafame Group
Terrafame Group Ltd. is a special-purpose company wholly owned by the State of Finland. It is responsible for managing the state ownership and exercising the owner’s power at Terrafame Ltd. Terrafame Group’s role is to secure private supplementary financing and support the stabilisation and development of the mining company’s operations. Terrafame Group is also responsible for helping the development of new technological solutions related to mine water purification.
Terrafame Ltd. is a Finnish multi-metal company producing nickel, zinc, cobalt and copper at its mine and metals production plant located in Sotkamo, Finland. Terrafame aim is to conduct environmentally sustainable, safe and profitable operations.