Aging nickel plant in northwest Russia due to close in late 2020

The nickel plant in Nikel, northwest Russia is set to close by the end of next year. (Atle Staalesen/The Independent Barents Observer)
A gradual halt in production is likely to take place before Nornickel fully closes its smelter in the Russian border town of Nikel.

Employees have started to get notice from Nornickel about re-employment in other company units in Zapolyarny, Monchegorsk, as well as the far away Norilsk and Bystrinsky project.

The closure is due to take place by year 2021, plant worker Sergey told the Barents Observer.

The time schedule is confirmed by representatives of Kola MMC, the regional subsidiary of Nornickel. The plant equipment will stepwise be taken out of operation and parts of the plant will continue production until the full dismantling of the furnaces, the company says to SeverPost.

The process is planned to be completed by the end of year 2020.

Gradual reduction

The number of people working at the plant is due to gradually reduced in the course of the period.

According to the company, the preferences of the employees will carefully be mapped in the course of the next couple of months. Based on the results of the surveys, a set of support measures will be elaborated, SeverPost reports.

Nikel, population 11,600, is just few kilometers from Russia’s Arctic border with Norway and Finland. (Atle Staalsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

The measures will take into account the various life situations of the employees and their individual needs, Nornickel says to the news agency.

Nornickel is the world’s leading producer of nickel. In the first nine months of 2019, the company produced a total of 166,948 tons, a 6 percent year-on-year increase from 2018. The company plants in the Kola Peninsula accounted for 120,513 tons of the production, a survey from the company shows.

At the same time, financial results show major revenues. In the first nine months of the year, Nornickel intends to pay $1.5 billion in dividends to owners.

Nornickel President Vladimir Potanin is biggest shareholder with 32,9 percent stake.

The closure in Nikel is likely to result in a significant population decline in the municipality of Pechenga. By 1 January 2019, the local population totaled 37,129. That included 11,672 inhabitants in Nikel and 14,902 people in nearby Zapolyarny.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Moody’s downgrades rating on $550M bond owed by Northern Canada mines owner, CBC News

Finland: Job growth to slow down, Finland’s labour ministry predicts, Yle News

Norway: Minister downplays environmental impact of planned mine in Arctic Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Monchegorsk, Russia: a mining town with green aspirations, Cryopolitics Blog

Sweden: Kiruna, an Arctic Swedish town built and relocated for mining, Cryopolitics Blog

United States: US Dept. of Transportation awards $25M for Port of Alaska upgrades, Alaska Public Media

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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