Nornickel will boost Taimyr mining to support the world’s shift to electric mobility

The Russian metals giant hopes to increase Arctic production of nickel and copper by 75 percent.

By Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer - November 22, 2019

Russian mining giant Nornickel has set a goal of extracting 30 million tonnes of ore per year from its Arctic operations in Taimyr, as part of a 10-year strategic plan, the company said earlier this week.

Nornickel, describing itself as “the world’s best Tier-1 mining resource,” says its unique commodity basket, which includes copper and nickel, gives the company the best position to support the world’s shift to clean energy mobility.

The announcement to boost production of core metals for battery production comes as the International Energy Agency estimates sales of electric vehicles to reach 44 million annually by 2030, up from about 2 million in 2018.

With a mining capacity of 30 million tonnes of ore on the Taimyr Peninsula by 2030, Nornickel says annual production of nickel would be 250 to 250 thousand tonnes and 520 to 560 thousand tonnes of copper. That is an increase of up to 30 percent of nickel production and up to 40 percent of copper production.

Both nickel and copper are core metals in batteries for electric cars, buses and ships.

“We believe that we could supply enough nickel to produce 3.5 to 5.5 million nickel-rich EV battery packs, which could reduce global CO2 emissions by 50-100 million tonnes over the EV’s life cycle,” the capital market days announcement reads.

The two mining areas where output will see a boost are the Talnakh deposit and the recently approved South Cluster mining project.

The mining town of Talnakh is located some 20 kilometers north of Norilsk.

After recently closing down the oldest nickel smelter in Norilsk, production of pure nickel metal for the mining and matte melting was transferred to Monchegorsk on Russia’s Kola Peninsula as well as to the company’s Harjavalta refinery in Finland.

Although Nornickel has started a large-scale modernization of its mining, processing and smelter industry in the very north of Russia, the town of Norilsk was earlier this year placed as No. 1 on the list of the world’s worst sulfur dioxide (SO2) polluters.

1.9 million tons of SO2 from the chimneys in Norilsk were blowing over the Arctic tundra on the Taimyr Peninsula in 2018, according to an estimate in a NASA satellite study, as previously reported by the Barents Observer.