Yara fertilizer plant and phosphate rock mining in Siilinjärvi near Kuopi in Finland.
Photo: Yara International ASA
The plan is to start mining in 2014-15. Technical and economic studies are now underway, but Yara Soumi Oy says already that building its own enrichment plant in Sokoli will be too costly.
– It make sense to use the existing concentrator plant for apatite, located only 50 kilometres away, instead of building a new one, says Eero Hemming, coordinator for the project in a press-note posted on Yara Suomi Oy’s own portal.
The concentrator plant in question is located in the Russian mining town of Kovdor, near the border to Finland on the Kola Peninsula.
Hemming says another reason to go for the Russian plant is to make less impact on the environment in the area near Sokli.
The up-coming mining of phosphate and niobium in Sokli has triggered protests from an ad-hoc environmental group. The group Save-Sokli claims the by-products make mining in the area extremely problematic.
Sokli is located in Savukoski, between the Urho Kekkonen National Park and the Värriö National Park, said to be the most significant wilderness camping area of Eastern Lapland. The mines will also influence on migration and grazing area of reindeers of Kemin-Sompio, the largest reindeer herdsman cooperative in Finland.
Urho Kekkonen National Park in Finnish Lapland is one of the most significant wilderness area in the Barents Region. Photo: Thomas Nilsen
By shipping the ore to Russia for concentration, Yara hopes to minimize the environmental impact in Finland.
Yara is now proceeding with the Kovdor plant’s owner EuroChem to find solutions for upgrading the ore at the existing plant cross the border from Sokli. Kovdor is Russia’s second biggest producer of apatite concentrate.
The regional news portal Barentsnova reported earlier in February that Murmansk governor Dmitri Dmitrienko recently approved a long-term program to modernize the plants in Kovdor and to construct production facilities for several other minerals.
According to Yara, ore mined in Sokli can be transported to Kovdor either by tube or train.
Yara has long history of doing business with the fertilizer industry on the Kola Peninsula. The company has bought apatite minerals from both the mines in Kovdor and in Kirovsk. The minerals are shipped from a special designed port in Murmansk to Yara’s fertilizer plants in Glomfjord and Herøya in Norway.
The port facilities for loading of apatite minerals in Murmansk. Photo: Thomas Nilsen
The mining plans in Sokli are welcomed by locals in Finnish Lapland. The mine will create jobs for 110-150 people, and even more in the construction period.
Yara will make a final decision on the mining and processing during 2012.