PR:Perä reveals the origin of water problems at Talvivaara Mine

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Press release 29.11.2012 / Stop Talvivaara -movement

Perä reveals the origin of water problems at Talvivaara Mine

Talvivaara Mining Company arranged a meeting with local inhabitants in Kainuu on 28.11., drawing a full room of people, who would not take any rubbish from the company. This was first experienced by production director Natunen who tried to argue that the Talvivaara catastrophe was caused by a wet summer. The whole room burst into laughter. In terms of factual arguments the company did not fare any better. The company invoked statistics by Fortum, according to which the previous summer had been the rainiest in a hundred years. Hannu Hyvönen from Stop Talvivaara reminded Natunen of information from Sotkamo weather station publicised by the blog of Suomen luonto -magazine, according to which there was more rainfall during the year 2004 than 2012.

In the comments of the blog Katja Klein-Hämäläinen crushes the Talvivaara myth of "historical rains" (also see Talvivaara Mining Company: Operational and Resource Update 28.11. - by citing the Environmental Impact Assessement of the Talvivaara mine from August 2005, made by consultant LVT. A direct quote from page 49 reads (translation by Stop Talvivaara): "In the management of water a primary role has been to take into account exceptional rains. It must however be remembered that the mean annual precipitation on the leaching heaps is only around 0,5 -- 1,4 % of the total irrigation. For instance during the exceptionally strong rains during 2004 the daily rainfall was less per surface area than is used in the irrigation of the heaps."

Problems in the primary heap?

- Are there perhaps problems in the bioheapleaching process? Has the stay of water diminshed, and would this explain why the operation in the heaps has stuck? asked Hyvönen.

This claim received a surprising confirmation from Talvivaara CEO Pekka Perä. He told that their problem is, that the heaps are operating at too low a temperature. This information would explain the water balance problems of Talvivaara better than a rainy summer. The amount of vaporization has possibly collapsed.

In the event in Kainuu, CEO Perä did not explain why the temperatures are lower than desired, or how low they are. Has the vaporization stopped or decreased considerably? Stop Talvivaara has received information from actors in the mining field, according to which it is possible that the entire bioheapleaching process is at the center of the current problems. The problems are caused by graphite, which experiences petrification in high temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Celsius. The stamped and crushed ore is transformed to a rock-like material bound by graphite. In the light of this information the so called primary heap may be more of a hard cake resembling holey cheese, through which water flows much faster than it is supposed to.

Revelations by Natunen

Talvivaara Production Director Natunen was given a direct question from the audience: why was the acidic solution pumped into the gypsum pond instead of alkaline solutions, like it was supposed to? Natunen explained the problematic water balance and said, that the waters in circulation have had to be stored not only in the gypsum pond, but also in the excavation pit and the safety pond. Hannu Hyvönen from Stop Talvivaara-movement was surprised by this information, because earlier it had been understood that the gypsum pond was only to be used for alkaline solutions from the metal factory. - Have processed waters been pumped into the excavation pit and the gypsum pond?

CEO Pekka Perä explained the issue:
- It sounds naive when we say, okey it rained and we have problems. But this is not nearly as simple as that. In this heapleaching we have the circulation full. And we have to have extra storage space, if the pumps fail or something, so that this matter that is harmful to nature will not get out.
- When the circulation is full you need to take the risk when we can get no extra discharge permit (limited by the yearly discharge limit for water in the environmental permit). Which risk do you take? Risk that the pumps cease to function? Or fill up those extra ponds? Or do you take the smaller risk, that you put stuff to that other reservoir?
- This was the option when this is going forward, not vaporising
- We took the smaller risk. This risk was realized. This is the fact. And with only good intentions.

Videos from the local fieldtrip to Talvivaara area and meeting with local inhabitants on 28.11.2012 are to be updated on video-channel shortly: *

Video in english on earlier findings of effects on the environment:

People's Movement for the Lakes and Rivers

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