The so-called change negotiations, a required process in Finland if an employer is considering layoffs, will begin on Monday and last for six weeks, according to BASF.

The company employs a double-digit number of people in Harjavalta, all of whom are potentially affected by the move.

The decision comes after an administrative court cancelled a temporary permit for the new plant for precursors for cathode materials in February.

The company had received initial approval from the relevant authorities in 2020, but this was withdrawn following objections from NGOs due to environmental concerns. The plant was originally scheduled to go into operation in 2022.

The further postponement and uncertainty regarding a formal start have long-term financial implications, said BASF, which has invested a three-digit million-euro sum in the project.

"The decision to initiate these negotiations was made because of the lengthy permitting process with unclear outcomes, leading to an unpredictable timeframe for receiving a final, unappealable permit," said BASF in a statement.

However, a decision by the responsible authorities could still be made this year, said a company spokesperson.

(Reporting by Patricia Weiss, Writing by Miranda Murray, Editing by Rachel More, Madeline Chambers)