The same research will also cover the recovery of rare earth elements. Terrafame is prepared to do the research work in a pilot laboratory.

The laboratory research includes extracting a maximum of six kilograms of natural uranium from the main process solution through liquid-liquid extraction. The trial will cover only the extraction phase, meaning that the trial will not result in uranium oxide which would be Terrafame’s commercial product once the industrial production commenced. If the uranium solution resulting from the trial is not needed for future tests or other use, it will be returned to the production process in a manner approved by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority.

“We have at the end of October applied for a permit from the Finnish government to start uranium recovery. The purpose of the research to be started is to gather information that will support us in optimising the extraction process in due time before the possible start-up of the uranium recovery plant. We also want to see how the extraction works for the rare earth elements. All of this work is aimed at further improving the efficient use of metals in our mining operations,” says Terrafame’s CEO Joni Lukkaroinen.

The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority has granted Terrafame a temporary permit and set a separate time limit for the storing and possession of the nuclear substance resulting from the research activities. Before granting the permit, experts from the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority have evaluated, for example, the pilot facilities, personnel induction, and security arrangements.

Terrafame announced on 21 June 2017 that it had submitted an application for the trial to the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority. After that, on 31 October 2017, the company applied for a permit for uranium recovery from the Finnish government. If the government grants the permit, Terrafame could begin operating the extraction-based uranium recovery plant, located in its industrial site, at the end of 2019.