Results of the Great Norilsk Expedition Presented by the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences

By admin - January 25, 2021
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MOSCOW, Dec. 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The findings of the Great Norilsk Expedition were presented by the experts from the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (SBRAS). The Expedition lasted from July 27 to August 21, 2020, and was conducted by specialists from the Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry of Novosibirsk to examine terrestrial floodplain ecosystems and changes in biodiversity of the Bezymyanny brook, Daldykan, Ambarnaya, Pyasina, Dudypta, and Tareya rivers, as well as the southern and northern shores of Lake Pyasino.

The Expedition, supported by Nornickel, marks the first time an initiative of such scale was undertaken to analyse the state of the local ecosystems. Nornickel has pledged that similar expeditions will be organized on a regular basis to ensure the sustainability of biodiversity and favourable geological indicators in the northern regions of Russia.

The ultimate goal of the expedition was to create a comprehensive timeline of the anthropogenic pollution in Taimyr in the wake of the May accident at TPP-3 near Norilsk. Studies conducted at the sites confirmed the initial hypothesis that permafrost thawing resulted in the accident. The thawing itself is likely to have been caused by underground drainage from a nearby lake.

The report highlighted that no significant damage was recorded, while partial degradation of plant communities has been observed in the study area with some damage in the floodplains of Daldykan and Ambarnaya rivers has been confirmed. “The actual biodiversity of the entire region is relatively low. Moreover, no changes caused by the fuel spill were observed in the sampled organisms” – the scientists concluded. The results of the analysis of water samples taken at the sites determined that the local microflora is adapted to oil products and is capable of breaking down their elemental constituents.

The results of the expedition and consequent analysis of samples confirm that the Norilsk industrial region is a major geochemical anomaly. The natural geochemical background of the local environment is anomalous for nickel and copper, and is characteristic of deposits accumulated before the start of settlement and technological development in the region.

Further studies north of the site found no possibilities of oil spills into the Arctic Ocean or even into the central and northern parts of Lake Pyasino. No significant impacts on the ecosystems of Lake Pyasino and the Pyasina River have also been identified.

Andrey Bugrov, Senior Vice President at Nornickel, commented: “The Company will carefully study the report presented at the Academy of Sciences and will continue collaboration with fundamental science to introduce new approaches to economic management in the Arctic in the face of increasing environmental requirements from the government and growing public demand for cleaner production.”

Upon delivery of the comprehensive report, Nornickel, headed by Vladimir Potanin, has stated that plans for setting up a permanent camp with geophysical and biological analysis stations in the regions are being considered.

While studying the ecosystems of Taimyr and the Norilsk industrial region, the SBRAS and Norilsk Nickel signed an agreement on the joint implementation of a long-term programme to eliminate the consequences of the oil spill in Norilsk, as well as to develop regulations for industrial production in the Russian Arctic, taking into account the principles of sustainable development.

About MMC Norilsk Nickel

MMC Norilsk Nickel is a diversified mining and metallurgical company, the world’s largest producer of palladium, high-grade nickel, and a major producer of platinum and copper; it also produces cobalt, rhodium, silver, gold, iridium, ruthenium, selenium, tellurium, sulphur and other products. Nornickel shares are listed on the Moscow and Saint Petersburg Stock Exchanges; ADRs are traded over the counter in the U.S. and on the London, Berlin and Frankfurt Stock Exchanges.

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SOURCE MMC Norilsk Nickel