Russia’s Nornickel urges scientists to find new ways to use palladium

Demand for the mineral is down because of disruptions to auto manufacturing supply chains.

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The logo of Russia’s miner Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel) is seen on a board at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2017 (SPIEF 2017) in St. Petersburg, Russia on June 1, 2017. (Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters File Photo)

MOSCOW — Russia’s Nornickel, the world’s largest palladium producer, said on Monday it had begun a contest for scientists to find new ways to use the metal that has been hit by a chip shortage in the auto industry, its top consumer sector.

Global demand for palladium has weakened recently as automakers, which use the metal in pollution-reducing catalytic converters, have cut production due to the dearth of chips.

“We believe that palladium has huge potential beyond autocatalysts. We see high palladium demand in other global industries, including the green economy and decarbonization,” Anton Berlin, Nornickel’s head of sales, said in a statement.

The contest, known as the Palladium Challenge, will grant $350,000 in total to scientists or entrepreneurs able to come up with a sustainable way to boost demand for palladium, Nornickel said.

The award will be split between the top three projects in New York on Sept. 16, 2022, the Russian miner said, adding that it had partnered with the International Precious Metals Institute for the contest. Proposals will be accepted by the end of May.

Nornickel, which supplies 44 percent of global palladium needs from mines in the Russian Arctic, currently expects a deficit in the metal of 0.2 million-0.3 million ounces in 2021 and 0.3 million ounces in 2022 amid the production cuts by automakers, it said last week.

Reporting by Anastasia Lyrchikova; writing by Polina Devitt.