Norilsk ups environmental expenditure

The total cost of environmental measures undertaken by MMC Norilsk Nickel in 2006 was 11% higher than in 2005, exceeding RUB7.5 billion, including RUB1.71 billion invested in air protection. The company’s top priorities in environment protection are:

  • Gradual reduction of air pollutant emissions, including sulphur dioxide and solids;
  • Gradual reduction of wastewater discharge into rivers, lakes, etc.;
  • Development of waste disposal sites.

Environmental control improvement and reduction of air and water pollutants to comply with environmental laws and regulations are defined in the MMC Norilsk Nickel Production Development Strategy through 2015 (reconfirmed in its Strategy through 2020) as the long-term objectives of the operation. In air protection, the key target is to reduce gradually emissions of sulphur dioxide, which is the main air pollutant (over 97%).

Norilsk plants are located far from other Russian industrial areas, and this makes the traditional process of sulphur use in sulphuric acid production economically inefficient. Thus, finding a solution for the company’s problem becomes even more complicated and expensive.

The company’s action plan for the Gradual Reduction of Emissions through 2015 envisages the shut-down of the sinter plant and smelters at the Nickel Plant, reconstruction of Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant, modernization and construction of new sulphur facilities at the Copper Plant and Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant, etc. As part of this plan implementation, two process lines at the Copper Plant were reconstructed in 2006 (lines No.1 and No.2 for the production of elemental sulphur from furnace off-gases), and a number of other projects were launched.

As a result of efforts aimed at reducing dust emissions at the Polar Division operations (i.e., Nickel and Copper Plants, Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant, Association of Ore Concentrators, etc.), solid emissions in 2006 were reduced by 12.9% as compared to 2005.

Total pollutant emissions by the production plants decreased in 2006 by 1.2% as compared to 2005. Better sulphur capture from the Copper Plant’s furnace gases allowed year-on-year reduction of sulphur dioxide emissions by 0.84%.

In order to control the level of emissions under adverse weather conditions (atmospheric inversion, still air, etc.), the company has developed a system of air quality monitoring for the Norilsk industrial region. Other emission-reduction measures include limitation of production capacity and temporary shut-down of some metallurgical facilities (sinter machines, furnaces, converters, etc.). Depending on the extent of the adverse nature of weather conditions, three modes of emission reduction are used prior to complete shut-down: Mode I (15%-20% efficiency), Mode II (20%-40% efficiency), and Mode III (40%-60% efficiency).

Maximum sulphur dioxide concentrations fell in 2006, 1.6 times as compared to 2005, 2.6 times as compared to 2004, and 3.5 times as compared to 2003. The 2005-2006 average annual concentration of sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere was in the range of maximum permitted levels (0.5 mg/Nm3) established for populated areas.