In the winter of 2022-2023 and spring 2023, the company has progressed in the prefeasibility study of the Suomussalmi talc project, the aim of which is to refine the project’s financial profitability, environmental and both mining and process technical plans for industrial operations. The company’s goal is to draw up technical plans and apply for the permits required by the operation for a mine and concentrator producing carbon-neutral and traceable talc.
An integral part of the feasibility study was the enrichment and filtration tests carried out by Metso and the preliminary design of the concentrator based on their results, which also included consideration of the need for tailings filtration and water purification. In the preliminary designing, the flow diagram of the enrichment process was confirmed, and the necessary equipment was pre-selected and preliminary dimensioned. Based on that, the consumption of energy and consumable materials can be estimated. “Locked cycle” beneficiation tests simulated a production-scale process and based on them; it is possible to produce high-quality talc concentrate with good yield from Haaponen’s talc ore.
Jet-milled talc products were made from the talc concentrate obtained from enrichment tests. The concentrate was ground to three different grain size distribution, the mean grain sizes of which varied from approximately 2.5 micron to 5 micron. As expected, the brightness of the powdered product increased along with the fineness, and the talc retained its lamellar appearance.
Filtration of the tailings enables the dry stacking of the tailings and a more closed water circulation. The water treatment plant ensures the quality of the process and discharge water.
It was noteworthy that the buildings and infrastructure in the mining area can also be utilized in the planned talc production. Attention was paid to occupational safety and environmental aspects, and the work done creates good starting points for minimizing risks and impacts.
The investigations required by the environmental impact assessment report will be completed during the current summer, and the report is expected to be completed in the fall of 2023. The feasibility report of the project as a whole is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.
“The brightness of the jet-milled talc products and the lamellarity of the talc confirm the view that the Haaponen deposit can be used to produce qualitatively suitable and competitive products for the most important applications of talc,” says Nordic Talc CEO Erkki Kuronen. He continues that “in addition to the above, the compact talc ore reserves of over 22 million tons in the Haaponen deposit in the existing mining area, together with the positive results of the feasibility study, encourage to advance the project to move forward. However, it is premature to assess the implementation of the project or the financial effects.”