The company from Norilsk: multi-vector fight against pollution

Aug 13, 2020 11:05 AM ET

 GRK Bystrinskoe 1

Today, few industrial enterprises care about the struggle for ecology and the environment. However, there are such enterprises. For example, in Norilsk, pollution is a problem that is primarily addressed by the largest industrial company in the city. This is Norilsk Nickel.

Fight against pollution: the actions of the Norilsk Nickel leadership

Since Norilsk is an industrial city, it is not surprising that pollution is one of the urgent issues that needs to be addressed.

The management of Norilsk Nickel understands this very well, and therefore does everything possible in order to combat emissions and various types of pollution, to improve the ecological situation in the region.

Today, this company is considered one of the largest in the mining and metallurgical sector in the world. It is engaged in exploration, mining, and the production of non-ferrous metals. Another area of Norilsk Nickel activity is the sale of finished products.

Statistics confirm that Norilsk Nickel is one of the first places in the world in the production of nickel, copper and platinum.

The company has several production units – both in Russia and abroad. In particular, on the Russian territory the locations of the units are the Taimyr Peninsula, the Kola Peninsula and Zabaykalsky Krai.

The company mainly uses sea and river transport if it is necessary to cross the Yenisei River or the Northern Sea Route. Other vehicles used are cars, planes and trains.

Pollution prevention and clean ecology in Norilsk are priority necessities

Management is aware of the importance and complexity of the environmental challenges. Therefore, it is ready to fulfill its obligations related to environmental protection and fight against pollution.

The main task is to prevent harm to the environment. It is environmental results that interest management first of all.

Norilsk Nickel company complies with all standards when conducting production activities and product deliveries. For this, modern environmentally friendly technologies are applied, the requirements of the international standard ISO 14001: 2015 are observed.

Priority areas of Norilsk Nickel’s activities

Here are the priority areas for Nornickel’s anti-pollution activities in Norilsk and other Russian territories:

Eliminating sulphur dioxide emissions and other methods of struggle for clean air;
Significant reduction in wastewater volumes and other methods of struggle for clean water;
Decrease in anthropogenic load for waste management;
Prevention of pollution during the transportation of goods;
A rational approach to the use of natural resources;
Active partnership with the state and environmental organizations;
Participation in various environmental projects;
Struggle for the conservation of biological diversity.

It goes without saying that the achievement of all the above goals is impossible without the constant interaction of the company with legislative and executive state bodies, bodies responsible for environmental supervision, the media, international public organizations, and all interested parties.

Transition to digital technology

One of the ways to combat pollution in Norilsk is to actively switch to digital technologies in the production processes of Norilsk Nickel.

The company has become one of the Russian pioneers of digital business transformation. This means that most of the standard production tasks are solved using digital technology. This helps to increase production efficiency and accelerate the implementation of environmental strategies.

The need to solve environmental problems (including through the use of digital technologies) is indicated in the Sustainability Report compiled by Nornickel for 2019. This document describes how management sees the strategic development of the company until 2030.

“Expanding the horizons of sustainable development”

Here, for example, what are the key areas outlined in a document called “Expanding the horizons of sustainable development”:

Implementation of an environmental program (includes several types of pollution control activities in Norilsk and other areas);
Modernization of production and processing facilities;
Development of enterprise infrastructure.

Experts confirm: when the comprehensive environmental program is implemented, sulfur dioxide emissions will decrease by 25 times.

To achieve this goal, Norilsk Nickel has already begun to introduce technologies that capture harmful emissions. Moreover, experts assure that this equipment operates at the level of the best world analogues.

The document also focuses on the updated Sulfur Project, according to which the existing nickel and copper smelting capacities are modernized.

Serious investments have already been made to achieve such goals in the Norilsk industrial region and on the Kola Peninsula.

Another area of ??activity proposed by the Norilsk Nickel sustainable development program is the assessment of the impact of climate on the work of the company.

The metals produced by this company are actively used in world advanced technologies that reduce the negative impact of various sources of emissions on the climate. This is an important part of the fight against pollution – and not only in Norilsk, but also around the world.

Social Policy of Norilsk Nickel

Active implementation of the environmental program does not at all mean stopping the production process. On the contrary, by 2030 it is planned to increase ore production by 2.5 times compared to 2017.

This will be achieved, in particular, through the reconstruction and construction of facilities for enrichment, smelting and refining.

Considerable funds are invested in infrastructure projects aimed at providing resources for the main production. These are energy and gas capacities, including.

Norilsk Nickel pays special attention to the development of human capital (Vladimir Potanin, the head of Norilsk Nickel, calls people the main resource of the enterprise!).

The company by all possible means increases the efficiency of employees, involves them in a common cause, develops a corporate culture.

Also Norilsk Nickel has high standards of social support for employees. In recent years, the company has increased benefits for its employees, provides their sanatorium services, does everything necessary to protect people’s health.

In the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, Norilsk Nickel showed its best side by supporting its employees, saving salaries even to those who had to work remotely or not work, helping the medical institutions of Norilsk.The company has donated more than RUB20 billions to help fight against the pandemic. 

Finally, the fact that the wages of employees of Norilsk Nickel is one of the highest in the industry, is paid without delay and regularly indexed. This is also an important part of social support.

Labor protection is another factor that management pays special attention to. Everything necessary is being done to ensure occupational safety and to achieve zero injuries. Several programs are being implemented at once that improve the situation in this area.

All this puts Norilsk Nickel on a par with the world technological leaders in industries.

Protecting the Norilsk Arctic ecosystem from pollution

Pollution control in Norilsk and other regions is not just beautiful words for the leadership of Norilsk Nickel. Concrete actions are being taken. Several key areas of activity aimed at protecting the environment have been developed.

The environmental management system is switching to a risk-based approach in accordance with the requirements of ISO 14001: 2015.

The Arctic ecosystem is considered very fragile. It requires special attention and care. Therefore, environmentalists of the enterprise have developed a long-term strategy, which includes the modernization of production through the introduction of advanced technologies.

As a result, the actions of the company will help to:

achieve the planned environmental performance indicators;
increase energy efficiency;
implement measures ensuring the rational use of natural resources.

Let’s look at each of the areas of environmental activity of the company separately.

Protecting the atmosphere from pollution

The protection of the atmosphere implies, first of all, the fight against air pollution with sulfur dioxide and solids.

The strategy includes mandatory reconfiguration of production (modernization of production facilities):

Talnakh processing plant is being reconstructed;
Continuous conversion technologies are being introduced at the Nadezhda plant;
Installations are being built that utilize sulfur (at the Copper plant and the Nadezhda plant);
The smelting equipment at the Kola plant is being modernized.

The results of this activity should have a positive effect on the state of the atmosphere in Norilsk and other regions.

Water protection

Another area is the protection of water resources of Norilsk and other regions from pollution. In addition, the company’s management is committed to their rational use.

Experts have developed a whole range of measures that should prevent the discharge of contaminated wastewater into rivers and lakes and reduce the amount of water consumption.

Here are some of these activities:

The tower at the Copper plant is being reconstructed;
The water circulation system at the Cement Plant is being integrated;
The water circulation system at the Nadezhda unit is optimized (mixed wastewater is treated and partially used instead of fresh water);
Wastewater treatment plants are designed to work with industrial wastewater;
The stations are being built that treat mine wastewater;
Wastewater treatment plants are being built to work with domestic wastewater;
Sewer networks are being reconstructed;
Technologies that measure wastewater volumes are being installed.

Improving the state of water resources is the main result of the above activities.

Recycling

Pollution control in Norilsk and other regions involves the proper disposal of waste.

To do this, the technogenic load on the environment is minimized.

The activities of Nornickel related to waste management are regulated by licenses and includes the collection, transportation, processing, disposal of waste of various hazard classes.

According to statistics, the bulk of the waste is hazard class 5 (they are more or less safe for the environment) and only 3 percent of the waste belongs to class 1-4 (the most hazardous). Accordingly, the main task of the enterprise and environmentalists is to minimize the waste of 1-4 classes.

Environmentalists positively note the company’s desire for the rational use of industrial waste. This applies to overburden and rock, residues from enrichment procedures, metallurgical slag. All of this waste can be used, in particular, for the construction of dams, the preparation of filling mixtures, railway embankments, road fillings.

Today, about 50% of waste is already rationally used. The task is to increase this indicator to the maximum. For this, modern environmental technologies are used, thanks to which the negative impact of waste on the environment is prevented.

It goes without saying that each project undergoes an official environmental review.

Biological diversity

The fight against pollution is one of the primary tasks of Norilsk Nickel. But the conservation of biological diversity is no less important.

Therefore, the company actively cooperates with several nature reserves in the region, which are located near production sites: on the Taimyr and Kola Peninsulas.

Nornickel has funded biodiversity conservation projects. In particular, the management of the Polar Division funded a project to save pisculka birds. This bird belongs to the family of ducks and was listed in the Red Book. Today, about 4,000 individuals of this species of birds live on the Taimyr Peninsula.

In addition, it is worth recalling the cooperation of Norilsk Nickel with Russian scientists and WWF (the world environmental protection fund) in order to preserve polar bears and improve their habitat.

Supporting aquatic biological diversity is also extremely important. That is why every year the company releases more than a hundred thousand fry of valuable fish species in local water bodies.

Greenhouse gas emissions

Another area of ??Norilsk Nickel’s efforts to clean the environment is the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

Environmentalists are focusing on the dangers of greenhouse gases that trigger climate change. Today they even regulate legislation in order to effectively deal with greenhouse gases and encourage enterprises to invest in this area of ??activity.

For example, Nornickel actively uses natural gas as a low-carbon fuel in 90 percent of cases.

A long-term strategy has been developed to modernize production with the help of advanced technologies and energy saving measures.

Here are the main areas of activity for the prevention of risks caused by greenhouse gas emissions:

Accounting for total emissions;
Development of a corporate system that manages emissions;
Maximum disclosure of information;
Monitoring of legislation related to the control of greenhouse gas emissions;
Assessment of emission reduction potential.

The fight against greenhouse gas emissions is also part of the general fight against pollution carried out by Norilsk Nickel experts.

Freight Security

One of the key areas of the company’s environmental activities is the provision of environmentally friendly transportation of goods.

In particular, sea transportation of goods is actively used. National and international requirements are met for the prevention of pollution of water bodies.

Norilsk Nickel has its own Arctic fleet, including several container ships, a port icebreaker, as well as a tanker.

Effective environmental management system

Thanks to the environmental management system developed by Norilsk Nickel’s specialists to combat pollution, environmental work is always under control. For the company, this is no less important than other aspects of activity – production management, labor protection, and safety.

Due to this approach, the efficiency of the company increases, environmental safety improves.

As a result, it is possible to achieve the following results:

Environmental activities are funded;
The level of environmental education of each employee of the enterprise is increasing;
The competitiveness of the company increases;
Improving of investment attractiveness;
International environmental standards are complied with.

The company receives additional recognition in international markets.

Conclusions

All of the above information indicates the desire of Norilsk Nickel to do everything possible to successfully combat pollution. Moreover, it means caring for the environment not only in Norilsk and the Krasnoyarsk region, but for the environmental situation around the world.

The more industrial enterprises begin to pay attention to solving environmental problems (as Norilsk Nickel does), the easier it will be to improve the environmental situation.

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