New Environmental Efforts Underway
Nornickel has introduced a Sulfur Program at the Nadezhda Smelter in Norilsk, aiming to significantly cut sulfur dioxide emissions. The move marks a concerted effort to tackle environmental concerns in the area. The undertaking, which was years in the making, relied heavily on the Northern Sea Route for the transport of necessary resources, with icebreakers facilitating the process.
The program’s infrastructure, covering an area similar to seven football fields, has provided around 500 new jobs.
Adaptation Amid Supply and Logistic Challenges
To bring this initiative to life, Nornickel made modifications to its production processes and developed a facility dedicated to managing sulfur dioxide emissions. Despite initial difficulties, such as international equipment providers backing out, the company secured alternative solutions, largely sourced from Russia and its allies, with support from governmental entities
Environmental Goals Set Against Historical Pollution Levels
Norilsk’s industrial activities have historically resulted in considerable sulfur dioxide emissions, estimated at 1.8 million tons annually. With the new system at the Nadezhda Smelter, the company expects to see a reduction in these figures. The initial target is a 20% reduction in emissions by 2024, with an eye toward a 45% reduction by 2025, using 2015 as a baseline for these targets.
The operational process involves the conversion of sulfur dioxide into sulfuric acid, which is then treated to produce gypsum waste. The method is specifically designed to cope with Norilsk’s unique industrial and geographical features, including certain logistical restrictions.
The investment in these environmental measures, focused solely on sulfur emission reduction, exceeds RUB 180 billion (approximately USD 2 billion).
Nornickel’s president, Vladimir Potanin, spoke at the inauguration, highlighting the company’s history of environmental issues and the recent steps taken to address them. He stressed the operational and external challenges that influenced the project’s strategic adjustments, noting the company’s renewed focus on environmental accountability. Potanin’s statement underscored a commitment to Norilsk’s environmental sustainability, amidst various challenges including the Arctic climate, transportation logistics, pandemic-related disruptions, and geopolitical factors.