🇷🇺 Nornickel unveils major Sulfur initiative in Norilsk

Press release from Norilsk

October 27, 2023

Norilsk, October 25, 2023 — Nornickel has inaugurated the Sulfur Program at the Nadezhda Smelter, marking the launch of Russia’s most ambitious environmental project to date. This initiative is aimed at drastically reducing sulfur dioxide emissions in Norilsk, elevating the air quality for its residents. The construction took more than three years. The Northern Sea Route was the primary transportation channel, with icebreakers facilitating the delivery of equipment and materials. The project encompasses a new facility equivalent in size to seven football fields and has created approximately 500 new jobs to ensure its seamless operation.

The company has come a long way to launch the program: Nornickel partially reconfigured its metallurgical processes, established an advanced facility for sulfur dioxide (SO2) utilization, and constructed essential infrastructure. Throughout this venture, a workforce of approximately 4,000, supported by over 400 specialized equipment units, worked to shape the Sulfur Program’s facilities around the clock.

Sulphur program: a few hours before launch

Challenges arose when certain international vendors declined to provide vital equipment to Russia. Nonetheless, with backing from the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, Nornickel successfully sourced alternative manufacturers and suppliers. Consequently, over 90% of the equipment now originates from Russia or allied countries.

Annually, Norilsk smelters release roughly 1.8 million tons of sulfur dioxide emissions. Nornickel’s flagship environmental venture not only aligns with Russia’s federal Clean Air Initiative but stands as its most significant commitment. The Nadezhda Smelter sulfur complex is poised for phased full-scale operations. With its completion, Norilsk anticipates a minimum 20% decline in overall pollutant emissions in 2024 in accordance with regulatory requirements. By 2025, the city’s factories project a 45% reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions, referencing 2015 levels.

The project at the Nadezhda Smelter leverages technological process that converts sulfur dioxide into sulfuric acid. The acid is then neutralized using limestone to generate gypsum waste, safely managed within a designated storage facility. This approach is tailored to the unique attributes of the Norilsk Industrial District’s ore base, employed

pyrometallurgical processes

, and Norilsk’s logistical challenges, including its absence of external rail links and limited Yenisei River navigation.

Upon full realization of the sulfur initiative at the Nadezhda Smelter, Nornickel’s investment will surpass RUB 180 billion. These costs are purely environmental in nature.

Vladimir Potanin, President of Nornickel, commented on the launch of the Sulfur Program:

“For decades, the Norilsk Combine was a significant source of atmospheric pollution in the Arctic. Since its inception in the 1930s, the emphasis on environmental conservation was notably absent, coupled with a lack of essential technologies.

When our team came to manage the company, we were resolved to fundamentally transform the company’s environmental footprint.

Facing the vastness of the project, the harsh Arctic conditions, logistical hurdles, challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, and shifting geopolitical landscapes, we pivoted and refined Nornickel’s Sulfur Program.

Today, we unveil the initial phase of this initiative at the Nadezhda Smelter. This is a project of national scale, reverberating throughout the Arctic. For us at Nornickel, it represents a testament to our dedication and our promise, primarily to the Norilsk community.”

Originally published on 25 October.