Revitalizing Finnish mine with innovative gravity energy storage

Pyhäsalmi mine. The place was opened in 1962, producing, e.g. copper, zinc, and pyrite. The mine as a whole is 1.4 km deep. Source: Wikipedia Common, credit: Tiia Monto

A groundbreaking initiative is set to rejuvenate the defunct Pyhäsalmi Mine in Finland by converting it into an innovative underground energy storage facility. Gravitricity, a pioneer in gravity energy storage technology, spearheads this venture.

Located 450km north of Helsinki, the Pyhäsalmi Mine, once operated by Canadian mining giant First Quantum Minerals, is recognized as one of Europe’s deepest zinc and copper mines, plunging 1,444 meters beneath the Earth's surface.

In a collaborative effort to regenerate the mine, the local Pyhäsalmi community and Edinburgh-based Gravitricity have formed a development entity named Callio Pyhäjärvi. Their inaugural project under this partnership involves transforming a 530-meter-deep auxiliary shaft into a working prototype of Gravitricity’s energy storage solution, GraviStore.

Stabilizing the Finnish power grid

GraviStore harnesses the power of gravity by elevating and lowering substantial weights within mine shafts, blending the benefits of lithium-ion batteries and pumped hydro storage. This system aims to provide up to 2 megawatts of storage capacity, stabilizing the Finnish power grid.

Martin Wright, Gravitricity’s executive chairman, elaborated on the project's significance:

- This project will showcase on a full scale how our technology can offer reliable, long-lasting energy storage solutions. It's designed to capture and store energy when demand is low and release it swiftly when needed.

Sustainable future

He added,

- This pioneering project paves the way for future commercial endeavours. It integrates our technology into mine decommissioning processes, offering a sustainable future for mines nearing the end of their operational lifespan. Moreover, it promises to generate essential low-carbon employment opportunities in an area deeply impacted by the cessation of traditional mining activities.

Part of a broader initiative

The Pyhäsalmi Mine, operational since 1962 and projected to continue above-ground operations until 2025, has seen over 60 million tonnes of ore extracted throughout its operating history.

With the mine's closure in August 2022 resulting in significant job losses, this energy storage project forms part of a broader initiative to revitalise the mine and the surrounding region. Under the global Callio initiative, various projects are being developed at the mine site, including solar farms, technology startups, mining technology testing facilities, and an underground 5G network, marking a new chapter in the mine’s legacy.

Source: Cravitrycity / Power Engineering