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Nornickel plans high-tech facility at former plant in Norilsk

Earlier, Nornickel announced a new development strategy, where the company would create a joint production with international partners and will relocate part of the Copper Plant's assets from Norilsk to China

TASS, May 24. The Norilsk Nickel Company (Nornickel) plans to create a new high-tech production facility, including for 3D printing, at the Copper Plant's site in Norilsk. The plant's smelting facilities are planned to be relocated to China, the company's Senior Vice President Larisa Zelkova said reporting sustainability results for 2023.

Earlier, Nornickel announced a new development strategy, where the company would create a joint production with international partners and will relocate part of the Copper Plant's assets from Norilsk to China.

"The Copper Plant's site will be re-equipped, so to speak, for the development of new modern production facilities, which are gradually emerging in Norilsk nowadays - like 3D printing and various other technologies that require good industrial, developed infrastructures," she said.

The closure of copper production will not cause an unemployment surge, she continued. "The [labor] turnover at our enterprises in the city, at Norilsk enterprises, will absorb any number of employees who will be released during the copper production closure, because the absolute turnover is higher than the number of people working at this plant now."

The company has experienced closing inefficient, outdated production facilities, she stressed. For example, the closure of the Nickel Plant in Norilsk in 2016 - thus, the company has cut by 30% emissions into the atmosphere. "Under that project, we have redistributed absolutely everyone who wanted to remain working for the company, and we have parted respectfully with everyone who wanted to leave us, we have helped them with moving, or trained those who wanted to get new skills, and many more."

The environmental aspect

The Copper Plant was part of Norilsk Nickel's Sulfur Program, an environmental project to upgrade that plant and the Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant, which is also located in Norilsk. Under the project, the company plans to cut harmful sulfur dioxide emissions. In October, 2023, the project's first line was commissioned at the Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant. This is the company's largest environmental event.

According to Stanislav Seleznev, Vice President for Ecology and Industrial Safety at Norilsk Nickel, the overall sulfur dioxide emissions at the Nadezhda and Copper Plants is about 1.8 million tons a year. When the project is implemented fully, in 2025, emissions from the Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant will be cut by half.

"Now, to the Copper Plant. The initial objective was to build something similar at the Copper Plant. But over recent few years, we have realized that the configuration at the Copper Plant is much more complicated," he said, adding that the upgrade's expenses were "many times more" than the plant's cost. "Ecology is important, but at the same time the plant will not produce more, there won't be better metal. That is, it looks very strange. Therefore, the remaining Copper Plant undergoing the upgrade was supposed to stop emitting 900,000 tons. The plant's closure meets absolutely this goal <...> In 2027, when the Copper Plant is closed, only about 100,000 a year will be emitted from the Nadezhda Plant."

As part of the Sulfur Program's first stage, the Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant has disposed of more than 40,000 tons, he said. The first production line's efficiency is above planned, reaching 99.6%.