* Waste water leak at mine found on Nov 4
* Pera founded Talvivaara, was CEO until April this year
* Pera was criticised for not taking active role in crisis
(Recasts, adds cabinet ministers to discuss crisis on Friday)
By Jussi Rosendahl
HELSINKI, Nov 15 Talvivaara's
founder returned to his role as chief executive, taking
responsibility for an environmental disaster at its mine that is
expected to cost millions of euros.
Pekka Pera, who was previously chairman of the board, was
appointed interim CEO on Thursday, replacing Harri Natunen. Pera
was the company's CEO from 2003 until April 2012 when Natunen
Officials in Finland's government, which owns about 9
percent of Talvivaara shares, had criticised Pera for not taking
a more active role in handling the waste water leakage at the
mine in Sotkamo, eastern Finland.
The leak was discovered on Nov. 4 and has contaminated
nearby waters with high levels of uranium.
Pera, who is expected to remain CEO until operations have
stabilised, told local media that the disaster would cost the
company "several million" euros.
Already the owner of about 20 percent of the company, Pera
said he was willing to invest more of his money to ensure it had
adequate funding, public broadcaster YLE said.
Talvivaara said on Wednesday that the leak had finally
stopped. But it still faces massive clean-up costs and is
awaiting permission from local authorities to restart the plant,
which has been offline since the leak was found.
Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen and cabinet members are due to
meet on Friday to discuss the Talvivaara crisis. Investors
expect them to discuss the possibility of new regulations or
more government investment.
The disaster has dominated headlines in Finland, as the
country's 187,888 lakes are interconnected and pollution in one
area can flow into other rivers and lakes downstream.
It is also the latest in a series of production disruptions
and environmental problems at the mine over the past year. A
year ago, the company was found to have discharged waste water
with high levels of sodium, sulphate and manganese into lakes
near the mine.
The latest disaster is seen particularly costly, and
analysts expect the company to seek more funding through a share
A major share issue could dilute the value of existing
shares, but many analysts expect large shareholders including
Pera and the Finnish government, to pitch in.
Talvivaara said it appointed non-executive director Tapani
Jarvinen as the new board chairman to replace Pera.
"Both appointments are of interim nature and in force until
further notice and at least until the company's operations have
been stabilised following the recent events," it said in a
Talvivaara shares were flat at 105 pence in London and up
3.5 percent at 1.28 euros in Helsinki. They had risen sharply on
both bourses on Wednesday after news that the leaking had
stopped, but are down over 20 percent since the disaster
(Writing by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Jane Merriman and Helen