Swedish battery anode and materials company Talga was granted an environmental permit for its Nunasvaara South natural graphite mine on Wednesday. This was despite protests from environmentalists and indigenous Sami people.
The ruling was handed down by the Swedish Land and Environment Court and included the grant to Talga of a Natura 2000 permit.
The ruling is subject to a three-week period where appeals can be lodged.
Talga’s Managing Director, Mark Thompson, said: “This key approval is a significant achievement, and a major step in Talga establishing its Swedish natural graphite anode production. The approval is the culmination of extensive technical, environmental and social studies over many years and has followed a highly rigorous permitting process.”
The Swedish Mining Inspectorate is expected to make a decision on the company’s Nunasvaara South exploitation concession application, it said.
The Nunasvaara South graphite mine in northern Sweden is designed to feed Talga’s planned 19,500 tpa battery anode manufacturing plant, which Talga said is progressing through a separate permitting process.
Luleå Municipality has granted the refinery building permits. They entered into force on 24 March and the court has scheduled a three-day environmental permit hearing for 3 May.
If the ruling is in Talga’s favour, work at the refinery site in the Luleå Industrial Park could begin in the second half of the year.
Talga said it is in advanced negotiations for graphite anode products with a range of European battery makers. They include ACC and Verkor. It is also in discussions with multiple EU and commercial financial institutions regarding finance for the project, it added.
Opponents said the court ruling was “a dark day for nature”. The Dagens Nyheter newspaper quoted critics from several organisations who pointed out the negotiations only concerned graphite mining in part of the area, Nunasvaara South, and not elsewhere where Talga has mining plans.
The Samis, who have their own parliament, culture and language, said the mining would encroach on pasture land and migratory routes for reindeer, from which many Samis make their living.