Molycorp Silmet plans to resume production of rare metals in Estonia after major fire
Molycorp Silmet, which is a subsidiary of the US company Molycorp, plans to resume operations at its Estonian plant producing rare metals, which was affected by the fire, in the coming days, according to David O’Brok-Kaljuvee, chairman of Molycorp Silmet.
O’Brok-Kaljuvee said that a workshop for the production of rare earth metals was not affected by the fire and continues its operations in usual mode, however a line for the production of rare metals was destroyed.
Due to this, the company plans to build a new line for the production of rare metals as soon as possible, which should replace the one that was destroyed.
According to O`Brok-Kaljuvee, there was never any threat of a chemical disaster, as the fire did not affect chemicals components of rare earth metals’ production, but only plastic pipes and construction waste.
A major fire took place in the building of Molycorp Silmet in the Estonian town of Sillamäe on June 9 and received the highest category of complexity. Fire fighting took about ten hours. The fire completely destroyed the factory building and led to a roof collapse in one of its industrial buildings. Local residents are being advised to stay indoors due to the threat of chemical contamination. The fire was not associated with any excess of radiation background both in Sillamäe and the neighboring Russia’s St. Petersburg region.
At present the Estonian firefighting services and police continue investigation of the reasons of the fire, while their results will be announced later this month. The amount of damage, associated with the fire is not disclosed.
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Molycorp Silmet AS is an Estonian branch of the US Molycorp Inc, specializing in the production of tantalum and niobium. During the Soviet times the plant had a status of a covert facility of the military-industrial complex of the USSR. The company employs more than 550 people. The plant recognized as the best industrial enterprise of Estonia by several times and was acquired by Molycorp Silmet from the Estonian Silmet Group in 2011.
The plant was built on the basis of a shale processing plant during the 1960s and specialized on the processing of loparite ores from the Kola Peninsula (a peninsula in the far northwest of Russia) as well as uranium enrichment. After the collapse of the USSR in 1991 the plant specializes on the production of tantalum and niobium.
After the acquisition by Molycorp, the plant became subject of massive modernization, which involved the replacement of old Soviet equipment. The amount of investments was not disclosed. According to Molycorp, the acquisition of the plant, provided the company with European production bases and expanded its global customer base. In addition, it allowed Molycorp to significantly increase the production of rare earths in the European continent.
Eugene Gerden is an international free-lance writer, based in St. Petersburg, who specializes on writing in the field of mining, metals and rare earth metals. ... <Read more about Eugene Gerden>