Nornickel to boost Finland output for EV battery market
Nornickel, the world’s largest producer of palladium and high-grade nickel and a major producer of platinum, cobalt and copper, has announced plans to ramp up output at its state-of-the-art nickel refinery in Finland.
Nornickel Harjavalta is mainly powered by renewable energy and is a world-class specialist in the hydrometallurgical production of high purity nickel with the most extensive nickel product portfolio in Europe
Nornickel is boosting its output of nickel products in Finland to meet rising demand from the electric vehicles industry.
Finland’s state mining investment firm Finnish Minerals Group, German chemicals giant BASF and Finnish utility Fortum are among companies currently forming an EV battery cluster in Finland.
Nornickel, one of the world’s largest producers of nickel, wants to meet rising demand from those companies in coming years, its head of sales, Anton Berlin announced.
Its Harjavalta refinery will expand production of nickel sulphate solution, which is used for the manufacture of intermediate products for lithium-ion batteries, reports Reuters.
Being close to customers is vital for this product as long-distance transport eats up the bulk of its profitability, Berlin stated.
“We are confident that this market will be rising,” Berlin said. Estimates of nickel consumption by the global electric and hybrid vehicles sector vary from 400,000 tonnes to 700,000 tonnes a year by 2025, he added.
Harjavalta currently produces 65,000 tonnes of nickel products a year, of which 10,000 tonnes comes in nickel sulphate solution.
It plans to raise production of nickel products to 75,000 tonnes by 2023 and to more than 100,000 tonnes by 2026, including at least 40,000 tonnes of nickel sulphate solution.
This solution would be enough to produce 1 million of electric vehicles, based on the current nickel per car usage.
Despite its expansion of raw materials production for the EV sector, Nornickel does not plan to move into actual EV battery production as it believes that “is a completely different business” to its own, Berlin added.
Joni Hautojärvi, Managing Director at Nornickel Harjavalta commented: “This expansion will further strengthen Harjavalta refinery’s position as one of the most sustainable producers of nickel and cobalt metals to the EV battery industry. Our unique product portfolio combined with EV battery metals recycling development enables NN Harjavalta to be the leading European supplier of the critical metals to the growing battery sector in Europe”.
Nickel output at NN Harjavalta during the first phase of the expansion will increase from the current 65 ktpa to 75 ktpa in 2023 and during the second phase to over 100 ktpa by early 2026.
The factory meets the most stringent EU sustainability requirements and recycles over 90% of its waste delivering to the market products with one of the lowest carbon footprint in the industry.
NN Harjavalta produces nickel in cathodes, briquettes, crystallized salts and solution, cobalt in crystallized sulphate and in solution. The production process is based on sulphuric acid leaching of nickel semi-products, a modern, high-tech approach that enables over 98% extraction rate and is a perfect fit for the production of battery grade nickel and cobalt.
NN Harjavalta monitors its environmental footprint rigorously, and has been an active participant in the studies of the Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla) for several decades.
Nornickel is a member of the European Battery Alliance and Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network.
Gerald Group resolves iron ore dispute with Sierra Leone
Gerald Group, the US commodity trader, will pay Sierra Leone $20mn and cede a 10% stake in an iron ore project as part of the resolution to a nearly two-year dispute that led to the shutdown of production, the two sides revealed.
Gerald's wholly-owned subsidiary SL Mining filed for arbitration in August 2019 over a royalty payment dispute and suspended the Marampa mine the following month. Sierra Leone's government responded by cancelling its mining licence.
As part of the agreement signed on Friday, Sierra Leone will take a non-dilutable 10% stake in a new company that will replace SL Mining and resume operations at Marampa by June 1, Gerald said in a statement.
Gerald will make two $10mn payments this year and will have the immediate right to ship its current stockpile of about 707,000 tonnes of iron ore, it said.
Both sides will withdraw their legal claims before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the statement added.
Gerald’s chairman and CEO Craig Dean commented: "I am delighted that we have been able to resolve our differences and have a fresh start and new beginning with the government of Sierra Leone."
Sierra Leone's Mines Minister Timothy Kabba told a news conference on Tuesday that the agreement was a milestone for the country.
"Whatever the pain we may have borne or dreaded throughout these two years ... this outcome justifies our action," he said.
Gerald estimates that Marampa holds about 1 billion tonnes of iron ore with a potential lifespan of 30 years.
Back in 2019, Dean spoke with Mining about the development of Marampa and commented: "SL Mining offers a substantial opportunity for Gerald Group as our Marampa mine in Sierra Leone is set to deliver six million tonnes of high-grade iron ore during its operational life. If you analyse the iron ore market it has transformed, even from a couple of years ago when prices were very low. Now prices have stabilised we’re in a favourable position with our first shipments leaving for China.
"Our goal is to make ‘Marampa Blue’ an internationally recognised premium grade iron ore brand. We intend to expand the delivery of high-grade 65% iron ore concentrate to markets in Europe and Africa.”