Last update:
2019-11-03

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.


Description:

By 2017, five years into this conflict, a criminal trial was gping on. 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 one year for Talvivaara Mining Company ex-CEO Pekka Perä, 10 months for ex-CEO Harri Natunen and eight months for an ex-division chief for aggravated environmental degradation. The accused denied the charges. By  22 March 2018 ( reported for instance by Xinhua) ahigh court in Rovaniemi, northern Finland on  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 environment 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 waste water included metal and gypsum. Major leaks occurred in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2013.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Talvivaara nickel mining company, Finland
Country: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
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.

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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
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
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Impacts
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
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
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
12.3.2015
http://www.tem.fi/en/enterprises/press_releases_enterprises?89511_m=117639
Sources & Materials
Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Funding, environment issues dominate Talvivaara AGM
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Talvivaara – A Finnish Environmental Crime Company
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Talvivaara Sotkamo uranium byproduct recovery project, Kainuu province
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Talvivaara revealed a gap in the system
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Finland: London mining company accused of "serious environmental crime"
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Talvivaara Mining Company
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Geenpeace
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Finnish Association for Nature Conservation
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Talvivaara’s Corporate Reorganisation
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Talvivaara mine: environmental disaster in Finland:
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Eye on the Arctic » North - Radio Canada International
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District court decision on Talvivaara Sotkamo bankruptcy
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Ministry of Employment and the Economy Press release 050/2015
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Talvivaara seeks cancellation of UK Shares
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

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]

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.

Meta information
Contributor:Timothy Bedford, Oulun Lyseon lukio. [email protected] (updated, jma)
Last update03/11/2019
Comments
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