Last update:

Talvivaara nickel mining company, Finland

A court case for environmental crime against the owners of a nickel mine for pollution. The mine discharged toxic effluents and heavy metals into the nearby lakes.


By 2017, five years into this conflict, a criminal trial was going on in the Talvivaara mine, owned then by Talvivaara Mining Company Plc. Under scrutiny in the trial were the construction and use of Talvivaara's gypsum waste pond, for alleged scheduled and uncontrolled dumping of effluents into nature, as well as issues surrounding the handling and placement of the mine's various waste components. Prosecutors claimed that Talvivaara bosses committed their first environmental crimes as early as 2004 when the mine was in its planning and building stages. Prosecutors demanded suspended prison sentences of 1 year for Talvivaara Mining Company ex-CEO Pekka Perä, 10 months for ex-CEO Harri Natunen and 8 months for an ex-division chief for aggravated environmental degradation. The accused denied the charges. By 22 March 2018 (reported for instance by Xinhua) a high court in Rovaniemi, northern Finland, sentenced Pekka Pera, founder and original director of Talvivaara mining company, to half a year in prison on probation on account of severe environmental pollution. Starting in 2015, the lawsuit was considered the most significant environmental criminal case in Finland. Two executives of the mining company were fined. A lower court had also fined Pera previously. The operation in Talvivaara nickel and zinc mine began in Sotkamo, Northern Finland in 2008. It used a water bio-diluting process in separating the ore. The waste reservoirs were problematic from the start. They overfilled due to rainwater, and contaminated water leaked to the environment. The wastewater included metal and gypsum. Major leaks occurred in 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2013. 

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:Talvivaara nickel mining company, Finland
State or province:Sotkamo, in Kainuu region
Location of conflict:Talvivaara
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Uranium extraction
Specific commodities:Nickel and Cobalt
Project Details and Actors
Project details

With a planned annual production of approximately 50,000 tonnes of nickel, Talvivaara has the potential to provide 2.3% of the world's current annual production of primary nickel by 2012.

See more
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:Local population within a 100 km radius of the mine
Start of the conflict:01/06/2006
Company names or state enterprises:Talvivaara Mining Company from Finland
Solidium from Finland
Terrafame Oy
Relevant government actors:Government of Finland
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Greenpeace
Finnish Association for Nature Conservation
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local government/political parties
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Mine tailing spills, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsToxic spill
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Violations of human rights
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Proposal and development of alternatives:Finnish Association for Conservation of Nature and Greenpeace have called for the mine to be closed. However, by 2018 and under state ownership, the mine (producing nickel, also uranium) is in production again.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The mining operation, which began operations back in 2008, has been plagued by all manner of reversals: heavy financial losses, crushing debt, major leaks causing environmental damage and most recently, criminal charges related to its poor environmental record.
Talvivaara Sotkamo went bankrupt in November 2014, and it is bound for liquidation. EJOs remain concerned about the clean up operation.
Moreover, Audley Capital Advisors LLP, a UK-based investment firm, has entered into a conditional asset purchase agreement to acquire the assets of Talvivaara Sotkamo Ltd from its Bankruptcy Estate. At the same time, the State of Finland, has entered into an investment agreement with Audley. The purpose of the agreement is to re-establish the operations and continue the business of the Talvivaara mine on a viable, long-term basis with the establishment of a new mining company.
Ministry of Employment and the Economy
Press release 050/2015
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

R. Sairinen, H. Tiainen, and T. Mononen, “Talvivaara mine and water pollution: An analysis of mining conflict in Finland,” Extr. Ind. Soc., vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 640–651, 2017

Finnish Association for Nature Conservation
[click to view]

Talvivaara’s Corporate Reorganisation
[click to view]

Talvivaara – A Finnish Environmental Crime Company
[click to view]

Talvivaara Sotkamo uranium byproduct recovery project, Kainuu province
[click to view]

Finland: London mining company accused of "serious environmental crime"
[click to view]

[click to view]

Talvivaara mine: environmental disaster in Finland:
[click to view]

Funding, environment issues dominate Talvivaara AGM
[click to view]

Eye on the Arctic » North - Radio Canada International
[click to view]

International Mining, “Former Talvivaara nickel mine on the rebound under Terrafame,”
[click to view]

Yle Uutiset, “Ahtium, former Talvivaara Mining, files for bankruptcy,”
[click to view]

Talvivaara seeks cancellation of UK Shares
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Xinhua, 23 March 2018.

Founder of nickel mine sentenced in largest ever environmental crime in Finland.
[click to view]

Xinhua, 23 March 2018.

9.10.2017. Talvivaara: Finland's biggest environmental crime case returns to court. Finland's most notorious corporate environmental crimes case returned to court on Monday. The founder and owner of the Finnish nickel mine Talvivaara – as well as other leaders of the company – could face massive fines and suspended jail sentences in appeals court.
[click to view]

9.10.2017. Talvivaara: Finland's biggest environmental crime case returns to court. Finland's most notorious corporate environmental crimes case returned to court on Monday. The founder and owner of the Finnish nickel mine Talvivaara – as well as other leaders of the company – could face massive fines and suspended jail sentences in appeals court.

Meta information
Contributor:Timothy Bedford, Oulun Lyseon lukio. [email protected] (updated, jma)
Last update27/05/2021
Conflict ID:1474
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.