Tag Archives: Sotkamo

Metso Truck Body hits the heights at Terrafame Sotkamo mine

Metso may have only just released its new Metso Truck Body, but it has already proven its worth during tests at Terrafame’s multi-metal mine in Sotkamo, Finland.

The mine has been the first one in the world to test the Metso-designed, light-weight body, which can hold almost nine tonnes more payload, improving the efficiency of the mine’s hauling operations.

As an added benefit, the rubber lining of the body cuts the perceived noise in half during loading and significantly reduces vibration.

Metso officially launched the new truck body at the Bauma fair, in Munich, earlier this month.

Esa-Tapani Leinonen, Head of Mining Department at the Terrafame Sotkamo mine, said: “The experience we’ve had during the first few months of testing the body is positive. The capacity and the durability of the body match Metso’s promises. Higher payload and driver comfort are both top priorities for us. The feedback from the drivers has been very positive.

“Metso seems to have done a great job in designing this light-weight body. Despite the higher, 325-t total load, the elevated rear flange manages to keep the boulders on-board without problems,” he continued.

The rubber-lined, light-weight body was installed on Terrafame’s oldest haul truck, a Hitachi EH3500, in December 2018. Prior to installation, the truck already had an impressive track record of 50,000 hours of operation, according to Metso. The new body hauled its first loads from the Kuusilampi open pit just before Christmas.

The mine’s truck fleet is in operation 24/7. Currently, the ore is loaded from the 60-m-deep pit on to the trucks with a Caterpillar 910 Series excavator. One truck drives approximately 40 rounds in a day, equivalent to around 6,500 t of payload.

Timo Sarvijärvi, Head of Mining Sales, Metso Finland, said: “A light weight without compromising durability was our driver in designing the Metso Truck Body. During the test period, we are keeping track of the hauled tonnage and collecting driver feedback.

“In addition to the higher payload, the body is lighter to carry when empty, which further increases cost efficiency. Moreover, we have recorded a reduction of around 10 dB in the noise level on a rubber-lined standard body, which means that rubber is 50% quieter compared to steel. We expect at least a similar reduction in the Terrafame trial.”

Kristiina Karjalainen, Haul Truck Driver at the Sotkamo mine, was among the first drivers to have tested the new Metso Truck Body. She said: “The new rubber-lined truck body has indeed cut noise significantly. Now the loading sounds I hear in my cabin resemble more of a whiz than a loud rumble. There’s been a noticeable reduction in vibration as well.”

According to Karjalainen, the first 40-t bucket load has always been the hardest for the driver. After that, the rock bed smoothes out the noise.

“The side shields of the new light-weight body work as they should, too, protecting the side view mirrors from falling boulders. I would definitely like to see a rubber-lined body installed on truck number 10, the one that I usually drive,” she added.

The Terrafame Sotkamo multi-metal mine, which produces nickel, zinc, copper and cobalt, reached its intended production level during last year. Yet, there’s plenty of material left to haul, with the mine recently applying for a permit to process 18 Mt of ore and 45 Mt of overburden annually.

Esa-Tapani Leinonen said: “In 2021, the amount of overburden to excavate will double, as we proceed with the Kuusilampi pit expansion and remove the large layer of rock covering the orebody.

“Before that, we will have to rethink the responsibilities and the composition of both our own as well as our contractor’s hauling processes. As the amount of hauled material grows, maintaining cost efficiency throughout our truck operations becomes more and more important.”

Outotec battery chemicals production technology on its way to Terrafame

Outotec and Finnish multi-metal company Terrafame have agreed on the delivery of pressure leaching and solvent extraction technologies for a battery chemicals plant to be built in Sotkamo.

The two firms had already agreed on a supply deal, but had yet to confirm the specifications.

The total order value booked in the December quarter order intake is approximately €34 million ($39 million).

Outotec has partnered with Terrafame on this project since the prefeasibility study phase, helping the firm design the 170,000 t/y of nickel sulphate and 7,400 t/y of cobalt sulphate plant, which will be built nearby to the company’s existing mine.

“Outotec’s scope of delivery comprises the technology and engineering of the leaching and solvent extraction plants, supply of proprietary equipment as well as advisory services for installation, training, commissioning and start-up,” the company said.

The battery chemicals plant is expected to be ready for commissioning in 2020. As a by-product, the plant will produce approximately 115,000 t/y of ammonium sulphate used as a fertiliser and in process industry.

Kalle Härkki, Head of Outotec’s Metals, Energy & Water business unit, said: “We are pleased to be Terrafame’s trusted technology partner in this project. The demand for battery chemicals is expected to grow significantly in the future and we have the required expertise and proprietary equipment for their processing.”

Terrafame confirmed in October that it would go ahead with building the plant after securing the €240 million ($273 million) it needed for construction.

Terrafame to go ahead with nickel-cobalt sulphate plant in Sotkamo, Finland

Terrafame is to build a battery chemicals plant in Sotkamo, Finland, after finding the €240 million ($273 million) it needs to build the nickel-cobalt facility.

Terrafame, which took over the zinc-nickel-cobalt mine following the bankruptcy of former owner Talvivaara, said it intends to have the plant completed at the end of 2020 and commercial production started in 2021. Back in July, the company received permitting permission for the plant.

“The intention of the investment is the further processing of Terrafame’s current main product nickel-cobalt sulphide into nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate, used in the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries,” Terrafame said.

The production capacity of the battery chemicals plant will be 170,000 t/y of nickel sulphate and 7,400 t/y of cobalt sulphate. This amount of nickel sulphate should prove to be enough to produce around 1 million/y electric vehicle batteries, with the cobalt sulphate enough to cover around 300,000/y.

Outotec is to supply the pressure leaching technology for the battery chemicals plant, with the contract including the planning of the leaching technology area, the supply of key equipment, and installation supervision and training services.

Pressure leaching is the first of the three main phases of the battery chemicals plant. During the pressure leaching, nickel-cobalt sulphide, which is Terrafame’s current main product, is first placed in a elutriating unit, where it is mixed with the process water. The slurry is then fed into an autoclave (ie a pressure leaching reactor, with a raised pressure and temperature) to produce a metal sulphate solution. After thickening and filtration, the solution is directed for further refining and finally for the production of battery chemicals.

Outotec has been involved in Terrafame’s battery chemicals plant project since the prefeasibility study phase. Construction of the electric vehicle battery chemicals plant is due to begin in the first half of 2019, with deliveries of pressure leaching technology estimated to begin in early 2020.

A funding package of $200 million related to the financing of the plant project was agreed by Terrafame, Finnish Minerals Group (previously Terrafame Group Ltd), Galena Asset Management, Trafigura Group and Sampo plc back in November 2017. In connection with the plant’s final investment decision, the parties have agreed on an additional funding package of approximately €100 million, Terrafame said.

Matti Hietanen, CEO of Finnish Minerals Group (which currently owns 77% of Terrafame and is wholly owned by the Finnish government), said: “This is a very important investment for Terrafame and its owners as well as the whole Finnish and European electric vehicle battery manufacturing value chain. Terrafame’s investment also improves the conditions for attracting more operators in the battery manufacturing value chain to Finland.”

Mika Lintilä, the Finnish Minister of Economic Affairs, said the Finnish state was willing to do its part in advancing the development of the Finnish battery production value chain “and to take forward the necessary efforts in research & development, operating conditions of businesses as well as investments”.

This week, BASF selected Harjavalta, Finland, as the first location for a battery materials production hub serving the European automotive market.

Sotkamo Silver hopes XRT ore sorting technology will lead to upgrade

Sotkamo Silver is looking to become one of the few precious metal operators using X-ray Transmission (XRT) ore sorting technology at its project in Kainuu, central Finland.

The project, which IM visited as part of the Finland Mine Safari for analysts and investors organised by Mining Finland this week, is expected to start production in the March quarter, ramping up to initial capacity of 350,000-450,000 t/y from a combined open-pit and underground operation.

At this rate, the mine should produce some 1.1 Moz/y of payable silver over a seven year life at all-in cash cost of around $9/oz, along with significant amounts of zinc, lead and gold within three saleable concentrates (Ag-Au-Pb, Zn-Ag and pyrite-Ag).

In order to cut processing costs and improve grades, Sotkamo is looking to install an Outotec-TOMRA XRT ore sorter at the operation. The machine, which will be acquired through a low interest loan from a Business Finland subsidiary, will be used after two-stage crushing (jaw and cone crushers) has taken place and the rock is some 30-70 mm in size.

Test work in 2015 on some 2,200 kg of Sotkamo samples showed the silver content from low-grade ore  increased some 1.9x to 116 g/t Ag, while the average silver content in ore was boosted 1.43x to 195 g/t Ag. Silver recovery from low-grade ore samples was 88%, while average ore-grade recoveries were 89%.

In addition to this, about 60% of the rock previously classified as low-grade ore was removed as gangue with the XRT trial at TOMRA’s facility in Germany, with some 43% of rock reporting as gangue from the average grade ore samples.

CEO Dr Timo Lindborg said the sorting technology did not locate the silver within the ore, but recognised lead. This would enable the company to upgrade the silver grade within ore reporting to subsequent grinding, flotation and filtration processes.

During the site visit, IM saw the mill building being constructed, witnessed pre-stripping of the openpit and works on the tailings facility, and saw the already-completed decline down to 350 m depth.

The company is currently in the process of selecting a mining contractor to carry out both openpit (conventional truck and shovel) and underground (longitudinal bench and fill, using cemented backfill where necessary) works.

The 2017 technical report envisaged using electric-hydraulic production drilling jumbos, diesel LHDs (remote controlled where possible) and diesel dump trucks underground for mining the 20 m high, 60-70 m long and 5-30 m wide stopes, along with backhoe excavators and articulated or dump trucks for open-pit mining.

Sotkamo Silver expects to extend the 2.6 km-long decline, which was constructed by Outokumpu back in 1993, down to the 750 m level in year three, while it is also weighing up the use of both solar and wind power at the operation further down the line.