Assets and resource base of Norilsk Nickel Company: the Pride of the Russian mining and metallurgical sector

Aug 11, 2020 9:30 AM ET


The company Norilsk Nickel has developed a strategy for sustainable development, including different ways of its development.

Here is the list of some corporate documents that contain information about the main activities of the company:

Strategy of production and technical development (it covers the period up to 2025).
The basis of ecological policy.
Basic policies of product quality.
The concept of corporate risk management.
The basis of labor protection and safety of production.
Personnel management strategy.

The main directions of the Norilsk Nickel company’s activities

If to talk about all this in more detail, then Norilsk Nickel is constantly striving to improve the quality of its products so that they meet international standards.

It should be noted that the products of Norilsk Nickel are considered one of the best in the world today.

Environmental policy is one of the priorities of the company. This is emphasized every time by the leadership of Norilsk Nickel.

An environmental management strategy has been developed to combat several types of pollution.

Labor protection and production safety are also important issues. Vladimir Potanin, the head of the Norilsk Nickel company, has repeatedly focused on the fact that the company’s employees are its main resource. Therefore, taking care of them (as well as of all residents of Norilsk) should come first.

As for the team management strategy, it was developed back in 2007. It defines the main areas of personnel management for different periods:

Hiring qualified staff – as many as required;
Motivational activities aimed at achieving different goals – both current and strategic;
Social stability in the team.

Norilsk Nickel is actively working in all areas of the strategy.

That is why it manages to be among the best companies in its field of activity.

Nornickel’s assets in Taimyr  

The Taimyr Peninsula has a first-class resource base, which is unique due to the huge amount of valuable minerals and metals (nickel, copper, platinum).

This resource site is considered the key base of Norilsk Nickel. Still would! According to experts, there are about two billion tons of ore here. If the current production level is maintained, the company will be provided with ore for the next 80 years.

Talnakh and Norilsk mines are located in the Norilsk industrial region. The volume of ore mined here is half of the total production of Norilsk Nickel.

Several production assets are engaged in the extraction and processing of ore at Talnakh – in particular, Zapolyarniy Division and Medvezhy Ruchey LLC.

Zapolyarniy Division is engaged in the development of the Talnakh ore cluster. This includes the Talnakh and Oktyabrsky mines with copper and nickel deposits.

The Norilsk ore cluster is being developed by OOO Medvezhy Ruchey.

Every year, several million tons of ore are mined here. For example, production data for 2018 is 17.3 million tons.

Talnakh ore cluster

As for the Talnakh ore cluster, it is located on the right bank of the Norilsk River.

This ore cluster unites several large copper-nickel deposits – Oktyabrskoye and Talnakhskoye. They are located in the northwest of the Siberian platform. Back in the 60s, rich deposits of various ores were discovered here.

The mining of these ores has been going on for many years. But there are enough supplies. They will last for many more decades.

Geological exploration work is regularly carried out at the Talnakh ore cluster. This is additional exploration of previously developed mines and flank. In addition, it is operational exploration of new territories. Thanks to this activity, an increase in reserves of various ores is provided.

In particular, in 2018 the Norilsk Nickel company was engaged in the implementation of a project involving the exploration of the flanks of the Oktyabrskoye. Thanks to this project, several new ore deposits were discovered at once.

The company currently has several such geological exploration projects.

Norilsk ore cluster

The main work at the Norilsk ore cluster is carried out in its northern part. In particular, this is the Norilsk-1 deposit, where disseminated sulfide ores are mined.

This mine has been in development since the 1930s. Recent geological exploration work has increased the reserves to 150 million ore. Thanks to this, until 2050 the deposit will be developed by open cast mining.

“Southern cluster” is the name of the project providing for the development of the Norilsk-1 deposit.

In 2017, the assets of the Southern cluster were separated into a separate legal entity, which was named Medvezhy Ruchey LLC. This was necessary for the further development of the project. Investments were even attracted.

Today, Medvezhy Ruchey includes the Zapolyarny mine (where open-cast and underground mining of ores is carried out), two tailing dumps and the Norilsk concentration plant. In the near future, it is planned to increase production to 9 million tons per year. This will allow, in the end, to receive more than 20 tons of platinum group metals annually.

The development of the Taimyr resources is not limited to this. Norilsk Nickel has entered into cooperation with Russian Platinum to develop a number of new deposits. In particular, we are talking about the Maslovskoye deposit of sulfide ores, which is considered one of the largest in the world. It is located 12 km from Norilsk-1.

It is also planned to jointly develop the southern territory of the Norilsk-1 and the Chernogorskoye deposit.

Nornickel company’s assets on the Kola Peninsula

Another subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel is the Kola Mining and Metallurgical Company, which is located on the Kola Peninsula (Murmansk Region). This is one of the main production complexes of Nornickel.

According to experts, these deposits contain over 327 million tons of ore, more than 2 million tons of nickel and just over 1 million tons of copper.

It is enough to look at the 2018 data to understand the importance of the Kola Mining and Metallurgical Company for the Norilsk Nickel production group:

72 percent of nickel, 18 percent of copper and 61% of platinum metals of the company’s total production were mined.

In total, about 8 million tons of ore was mined in this area in 2018.

Here is a list of some of the fields being developed on the Kola Peninsula:

Western ore cluster (Semiletka, Kotselvaara-Kammikivi);
Eastern ore cluster (Verkhnee deposit, Sputnik).

The Severny mine is the development of the Zapolyarnoye and Zapadnoye deposits.

The Kaula-Kotselvaara mine is the development of the Semiletka and Kotselvaara-Kammikivi deposits.

What is known about the processing facilities of Norilsk Nickel?

Separately, it is worth talking about the processing facilities of Norilsk Nickel.

The largest processing plant is located in the city of Zapolyarny.

Its main product is briquetted copper-nickel concentrate.

Subsequently, the briquettes are sent to the smelting shop, which is located in the village of Nickel. Matte (feinstein) is produced there.

Metallurgical production of Norilsk Nickel company

The shops where metallurgical production processes and refining are carried out are located in Monchegorsk.

There are also two workshops where nickel electrolysis is carried out.

Feinstein, which comes from the village of Nickel (production facilities are located there – in particular, the smelting shop) and matte from the branch in the city of Zapolyarny are processed in the workshops of Monchegorsk.

The end products of these workshops are cathode nickel and copper, electrolytic cobalt, carbonyl nickel, and cobalt concentrate.

In addition, additional products are manufactured here, including precious metal concentrates, sulfuric acid, copper and nickel concentrates, and crushed matte (which is sent to NN Harjavalta).

New technologies and increase in production capacity

The nickel electrolysis shop is currently being actively modernized. In particular, the company is increasing its capacity to 145 thousand tons (previously it was 120 thousand tons).

A special technology is also being introduced here, which provides for the electric extraction of nickel from nickel powder (which is formed in tube furnaces) dissolved in chlorine. Thanks to this technology, it is possible to achieve maximum purity values ??when the finished metal is produced.

The Norilsk Nickel management has already planned to increase the capacity of the Kola Mining and Metallurgical Company to 190 thousand tons. First of all, it includes the processing of nickel. Previously, these figures were 165 thousand tons.

By the way, the process of refining non-ferrous metals, which are produced on the Kola Peninsula and in the Zapolyarny branch, is carried out at the Krasnoyarsk Non-Ferrous Metals Plant.

Mineral resources of Norilsk Nickel company

As for the mineral resource base of Norilsk Nickel company, according to experts, it is about 147 million tons of ore.

This ore will be used for producing 0.4 million tons of nickel, 0.6 million tons of copper, 0.8 thousand tons of platinum group metals.

Well, it is worth noting the regular geological exploration work – in particular, at the Talnakh mine, which allows the discovery of new deposits.

The mines of Zapolyarniy Division use simulation modeling technology, which makes it possible to properly plan underground mining operations and subsequently carry them out successfully.

In the development of the Norilsk-1 deposit, both open-cast and underground methods are actively used.

At the Talnakh enrichment plant, rich, medicinal and disseminated ores are processed, which are mined at the Talnakh and Oktyabrskiy mines. As a result, copper and nickel-pyrrhotite concentrates and other metal-containing products are obtained.

Since 2018, the capacity of the Talnakh enrichment plant has been increased to 18 million tons per year (previously, these figures were 10.2 million tons).

The Norilsk Concentrator is engaged in the processing of ores mined at the Norilsk-1 deposit. In addition, ores from the Talnakh and Oktyabrskiy mines are enriched here.

As a result, it is possible to obtain copper and nickel concentrates.

Norilsk Nickel and environmental projects

In 2016, Norilsk Nickel carried out a large-scale reconfiguration of production, as a result of which the Nickel Plant, which had been operating since the 40s of the XX century, was closed.

The decision to close this production was also made as part of the environmental management strategy developed by the company’s management.

This was a serious step towards improving the environmental situation in the region. It showed that the company is ready to take the most serious measures in order to fight for a cleaner environment.

It goes without saying that the closure of the Nickel plant is not the only step taken by the company for environmental reasons. Every year the company invests considerable financial resources in the implementation of environmental projects, cooperates with local administrations and ecological organizations.

The same “Sulfur Project” developed by Norilsk Nickel specialists, according to experts, will significantly reduce the emissions of sulfur dioxide. It involves the introduction of new technologies and production methods. Of course, it is not easy or cheap, but serious improvements are already visible today.

Processing and obtaining the final product

After the closure of the Nickel Plant, it was the Kola Mining and Metallurgical Company that became the main nickel refining center.

At the branch in Zapolyarny, matte (feinstein) is produced, which is subsequently sent to the Kola Mining and Metallurgical Company. Sulfur and cathode copper are also produced here.

For the transportation of thickened concentrates produced at the Talnakh and Norilsk concentrators, hydrotransport is mainly used. The end point is the Copper Plant and the Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant.

At the Nadezhda plant, nickel-pyrrhotite concentrate and metal-containing product are processed. The final product is matte and elemental sulfur.

The Copper Plant processes copper concentrates from concentrators, as well as purchased raw materials. The final product is cathode copper. It also produces elemental sulfur and sulfuric acid, which are sent to the branch in Zapolyarny (where this raw material is needed for technological purposes).

The Copper Plant also processes sludge from copper electrolysis shop, produces technical selenium and various concentrates of precious metals.

Norilsk and Norilsk Nickel – as a whole!

Norilsk Nickel is one of the largest mining and metallurgical enterprises in the world. This is a real pride for the Russian sector of the activity.

The company does a lot for Norilsk and the region as a whole. In fact, not a single event in the city takes place without its participation and support.

During the pandemic caused by COVID-19, Norilsk Nickel not only supported its employees, but also invested considerable funds (about $ 140 million!) to help patients and doctors.

It is considered a city forming enterprise and, frankly speaking, it is even impossible to imagine Norilsk without Norilsk Nickel today.

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