Finnish Minerals Group & FREYR Battery collaborate to develop LFP cathode materials plant in Finland

Finnish Minerals Group, a mining and battery industry development and investment company, and FREYR Battery will cooperate to assess the feasibility of establishing an LFP cathode material plant in the city of Vaasa. The parties plan to establish a joint venture company upon successful completion of initial phase studies and receiving investment decisions approval.

We have long stated that our sourcing strategy is local in nature and based on renewable energy sources, and we see Finnish Minerals Group as a like-minded partner that can help ensure that we are well-positioned to meet this ambition. We are closely following the EU-debate on how to secure internationally competitive framework conditions for the battery industry in Europe“, states Axel Thorsdal, SVP Project Development, FREYR

The potential joint plant project aims to be a spearhead project for the production of LFP cathode material in Europe. LFP cathode material—based on lithium, iron and phosphate—is needed especially in the large-scale energy-storage battery segment. In the initial study phase, Finnish Minerals Group and FREYR are focusing on the business plan, front-end engineering, cost estimates, financing, and environmental impact assessment.

At the beginning of January 2023, FREYR Battery submitted the environmental impact assessment (EIA) programme for the plant to the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment of South Ostrobothnia, which serves as the coordinating authority. The EIA procedure will be based on two capacity alternatives: 20,000 and 60,000 tonnes per year. The plant would be located in the GigaVaasa industrial area in the City of Vaasa, where FREYR has reserved a plot of 51 hectares.

Sokli mining project. Separately, Finnish Minerals Group announced that the results of a scoping study show that the Sokli deposit in Savukoski could produce not only phosphate and iron but also various rare earth elements (REE).

Finnish Minerals Group initiated the scoping study at the end of 2021, and now the survey and analysis work is complete. According to the results, Sokli could produce nearly 10% of the amount of REE that is needed annually in Europe to make permanent magnets. In addition, Sokli could fulfil more than 20% of Europe’s annual demand for phosphate. However, much of the mineral potential of Sokli remains uncharted.

In addition to mineral potential mapping, infrastructure and logistics solutions were also studied. Some of the mine’s production phase functions could be located outside the Sokli area. In practice, this would mean transporting the mined ore via an underground transport pipe for processing dozens of kilometers away from Sokli. It has not yet been determined where further treatment of the ore will take place, but it could be somewhere between Sokli and Kemijärvi. The transport pipe would also help keep the carbon footprint of production low.

Water management is important in the project. Accordingly, Finnish Minerals Group is working to minimize changes to surface and ground water as well as safeguard the trout habitat in Nuorttijoki river.

Sokli’s mineral resources are globally significant. However, the area’s potential has not been studied comprehensively before. In addition to phosphate and iron, the Sokli deposit contains REE, niobium, hafnium, tantalum, manganese, vermiculite, zircon, copper, silver and uranium.

As the result of the scoping study, issues have been identified that still require further investigation. The aim of Finnish Minerals Group is that during 2023, decisions will be made on initiating the next assessment phase.

Provided that the further assessments confirm the conclusions of the scoping study and EIA and permitting processes can be initiated, building the infrastructure for the mine could commence in the early 2030s. As an investment, the mine would amount to roughly between 1 and 1.5 billion euros and based on current research data the life of the mine could be several decades.

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