An employee of the Talvivaara Mining Company in Sotkamo died outside the mine’s metal factory on Thursday morning.
The Kainuu Emergency Response Centre was alerted to the incident at 9:30 a.m. when the man was found lifeless on the ground in the vicinity of the factory building.
A factory fire brigade and a paramedics unit failed to resuscitate the man, born in 1976. The deceased was from the nearby community of Paltamo.
The man had been performing his normal work duties. He was on a sample collection round in the area surrounding the factory. The precise cause of death will be established later in a forensic autopsy.
Thus far the police are looking into the case as an unexpected industrial accident.
“Something unusual has happened there. The automatic equipment detected hazardous substances in the air and sounded an alarm. The workers put on their protective gear”, explains investigating officer Seppo Nordström from the Kainuu Police.
According to the police, elevated hydrogen sulphide concentrations were detected in the immediate vicinity of the dead man.
The Talvivaara Mining Company also announced that elevated hydrogen sulphide concentrations were measured in the area in the morning. According to the company, the concentration had reached harmful but not life-threatening levels.
The detected hydrogen sulphide did not pose a danger to the rest of the environment. The source of the hydrogen sulphide is also under investigation.
People skiing in the area near the mine reported an exceptionally strong smell of sulphur up to 16 kilometres away from the facility.
Talvivaara’s employees received crisis counselling on Thursday.
Talvivaara uses large quantities of hydrogen sulphide for the thickening of metal in the process solution. Recently Talvivaara applied for permission from the Regional State Administrative Agency of Kainuu to increase its use of hydrogen sulphide by 30,000 tonnes over a period of six months.
The mine has its own hydrogen sulphide plant and the facility uses vast quantities of sulphur.
For example in 2010, 183,000 tonnes of sulphuric acid and 23,300 tonnes or pure sulphur were used at the mine.