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Norilsk Nickel Turns its Attention to the Environment and Tier 1 Assets

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Something happened on the road to the Voronezh project; environmental activists backed by Putin convinced Russian nickel miners to clean up their act

MMC Norilsk Nickel, the largest mining company in Russia and one of the world’s largest nonferrous base-metal miners, faces very serious pressure from the community and Russian environmental protection organizations. They claim that the company’s activity harms the health of surrounding citizens and nature. These pressures combined with weaker prices for metals are raising future performance standards for the company.

In terms of total world production, Norilsk Nickel mines palladium (41%), nickel (17%), platinum (11%), cobalt (10%, concentrate) and copper (2%). Domestically, the company accounts for all of the platinum production, most of the nickel (96%), cobalt (95%) and a majority of the copper (55%). As an industrial leader, it plays a crucial role in the Russian economy, accounting for about 4.3% of all Russian exports, 1.9% of GDP, 2.8% of total industrial output and 27.9% of output of the non-ferrous metallurgy industry.

Recently Norilsk Nickel updated its development strategy, which, as confirmed by top management, dramatically changes its course for the coming years. The primary focus of development in accordance with the new plan will be on large assets, possibly including Voronezh, the last large non-developed nickel deposit in Europe. This project probably will be implemented jointly with the other Russian nickel-mining company, UMMC. During the tender process, it was selected over Norilsk Nickel, but has since proposed a joint venture to develop this deposit. Implementation, however, was halted for a while because of mass public protests. Some residents of Voronezh believe that the proposed processing facilities will be harmful to the surrounding environment. For more information at
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