Russia's Nornickel earmarks $1 bil for copper refinery, disputes $2 bil fine
http://www.chemnet.com Oct 14,2020 S&P Global PlattsOver the next five years, Nornickel will invest Rb91 billion ($1.18 billion) to revamp copper refining capacities at the Monchegorsk site of its Kola mining and metallurgical division on the Kola Peninsula, north of the Arctic Circle, as it looks to replace obsolete and unsustainable technologies.
The project is one of the main drivers behind achieving a strategic target that Nornickel publicized in November 2019 to grow annual copper production by 20%-30% by 2030 from 2017 to 480,000-520,000 mt.
The major revamp the Monchegorsk metallurgical shop will undergo will also minimize the facility's environmental footprint, helping the Kola division reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 85% compared with 2015, when these emissions totaled 155,000 mt.
This 85% reduction in SO2 emissions will likely be achieved next year, it said. The elimination will be possible ahead of the new refinery inauguration thanks to the shutdown of the existing Monchegorsk Copper Line expected in 2021 along with the concurrent decommissioning of nickel smelting operations in Nickel town in the Russia-Norway border area, also part of the Kola division.
Of the two retiring facilities, the Copper Line is the closest to residential areas and is the biggest source of SO2.
Once copper operations in Monchegorsk restart in 2025, they will almost triple Kola division's copper output to 200,000 mt/year, up from the current 75,000 mt/year.
Faces $2 billion fine
Besides tackling sulfur emissions, Nornickel is also dealing with the consequences of the May 29 diesel spill at its Arctic power plant.
Oct. 12 marked the start of the hearing at the Krasnoyarsk arbitration court of the case where Nornickel is sued by Russia's environmental regulator Rosprirodnadzor for environmental damage caused by the spill. The watchdog is looking to make Nornickel reimburse losses amounting to Rb148 billion ($2.1 billion), an unprecedented Russian environmental fine.
Nornickel assessed the damage at Rb21.4 billion, saying its estimate, although based on the same formula, diverges from that of Rosprirodnadzor as the company applied a 1.1 coefficient (referring to the time between the spill and the company's response) whereas Rosprirodnadzor applied a 500 coefficient, something Nornickel finds unjust and intends to challenge, according to a spokesperson.
"The proceeding may protract for months and even years; the case already spans volumes," said a source close to the company, adding the final charge the court will impose is likely to be neither of the extremities, but something in between.