Major fire at Russia’s largest nickel electrolysis workshop

More than 100 persons with the Ministry of Emergency situations and local fire brigades are working on site. (Ministry of Emergency Situations, Murmansk division)

Black acrid smoke is drifting for several kilometers in Monchegorsk Wednesday morning caused by the fire at Nornickel’s factory.

The blaze moved quickly from the ground to the upper floors of the huge industrial facility on the outskirts of the northern city of Monchegorsk.

Fire brigades and the regional devision of the Ministry of Emergency situations are working at the site. By lunchtime, the flames still seem to be out of control, according to films and videos posted on social media from the scene.

The plant on fire is the nickel electrolysis workshop of the Kola Mining and Metallurgical Company (Kola MMC), a subsidiary of Nornickel, Russia’s largest producer of nickel.

Monchegorsk is located some 120 km south of Murmansk.

Local news online Khibiny has posted this video from the fire.

The company counts for about 10% of the world’s supply of nickel. After the old nickel plant in Norilsk on the Taimyr Peninsula was shut down five years ago, the plant in Monchegorsk became the world’s largest.

It is still unclear how the fire impacts production.

Nornickel has not replied to questions from the Barents Observer about the fire.

A press-release published by the company in the afternoon informs in brief about the fire that started at 09.04 local time in the cobalt department of the nickel electrolysis shop-2.

“All personnel were evacuated promptly, and no one was injured,” Nornickel notes.

A commission will investigate the causes of the incident and Nornickel is currently assessing the consequences of the incident.

A large-scale upgrade of the plant started in 2017, and the company said at the time that annual production could be up to 165,000 tons of nickel per year.

The factory in Monchegorsk now receives ore from Zapolyarny on the Kola Peninsula and nickel matte from the Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant in Norilsk.

Nickel is widely used in electric vehicles batteries, gas turbines, rocket engines and in a variety of alloys making the metal harder in armour platings. For that, it is an important metal for production of armoured military tanks and tracked vehicles.

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Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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