With nickel in great demand, Nornickel expands Kola mine in Arctic Russia

(Atle Staalesen/The Independent Barents Observer)

The Severny Gluboky mine located near Russia’s border to Norway will be made 300 meters deeper to keep up local nickel production.

World’s leading nickel producer Nornickel intends to dig 300 meters deeper into the far northern Severny Globoky mine, the company informs. Over the coming 12 year period, the underground mine will be expanded from 440 meters to 730 meter depths.

It is a needed measure to keep production at the current level of 6,2 million tons of ore, says Sergei Baranov, chief mining manager at local subsidiary company Kola MMC. Later, production will be increased to 6,5 million tons, he explains.

Access to more than 100 million tons of ore

The expansion comes less that four years after a similar expansion. Then, the mine was made 120 meter deeper, from 320 meters to 440 meters.

The upcoming expansion is believed to open access to more than 100 million tons of ore, which will allow the company to continue operations at the current level until year 2047. And there is far more ore in the ground, Nornickel underlines. There are already plans for a future expansion to 920 meter depths.

According to Baranov, the deepening will be made with a mechanised approach, and not the traditional drilling and blasting method. It is the first time that Nornickel applies this method, which requires special drill rigs.

The Severny-Gluboky mine is part of the Zhdanovskoye deposit. It is located in the municipality of Pechenga only few kilometers from Norway and Finland. After decades of extraction from an open pit at the Zhdanovskoye, Nornickel in 2004 shifted to underground at the Severny-Gluboky mine.

Nornickel not subjected to sanctions

The extracted ore is processed in the local metallurgy plants in nearby Zapolyarny. From there, the ore products are sent by railway to Monchegorsk, the other nickel town in the region, where pure nickel is processed.

Kola MMC has a total of eight field areas in the Pechenga area, four of which are developed; the Kotselvaara and the Semiletka located near the town of Nikel and the Zhdanovskoye and Zapolyarnoye located further east near the town of Zapolyarny.

The company previously said that it intends to open two new projects, the «Sputnik» and the «Yuzhny», which ultimately could help boost annual production to more than 8 million tons.

Unlike many of Russia’s other big companies, Nornickel is not subjected to sanctions by the international community.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Nunavut Impact Review Board rejects proposed Baffinland expansion in Arctic Canada, CBC News

United States: Keep Yukon ore out of Haines, Alaska, conservationists say, CBC News

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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