Areva applies to seek uranium in northern Finland

Monday, September 1, 2008

HELSINKI, Sept 1 (Reuters) - France's Areva submitted a claim to the Finnish government on Monday to search for uranium in northern Finland, the company said.

Areva Resources Finland said in a statement the exclusive, 5-year exploration claim was for a 108 sq km (41.7 square miles) parcel of land lying mostly in the municipality of Ranua in Lapland, 750 km north of Helsinki.

It first found traces of uranium there in 2007.

"I'd guess it will take one to two years to get (final) approval," Chief Executive Osmo Kaipainen said, noting the firm was factoring into its timeline expected court appeals against the claim.

Kaipainen said that even under the best circumstances, it would still take 7-10 years before Areva had enough information about the site to decide whether mining was economically feasible.

He added that work at the firm's current uranium drilling site, in eastern Finland, was on track.

"We can see uranium there, that's clear, but we don't know if there is enough for mining," Kaipainen said. The firm has said that if all goes well, mining at the eastern Finland site could start in 15 years' time.

Areva is part of a consortium building a new nuclear reactor in Finland, scheduled to go on stream in 2011, one of the first to be built in Western Europe after a long pause.

Uranium has not been mined in Finland since 1961.

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