Polar Lithium, a joint venture between Nornickel and the mining division of state energy corporation ROSATOM, has been granted the right to develop Russia’s largest lithium deposit, Kolmozerskoye, located in Murmansk Region.
The project aims to produce 45,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate and hydroxide per year, both of which are key components in the production of batteries. The partners plan to establish a large-scale integrated production facility, creating over 1,000 new jobs and reducing Russia’s reliance on imports of both lithium raw materials and battery components. The design and exploration phase is slated to be completed in a few years, with plans to reach full design capacity by 2030.
The Kolmozerskoye project comes as demand for lithium in the production of electric vehicles and energy storage devices continues to surge. This shift is driven by a proposed ban on fossil fuel cars in the near future. The dominant player in the global lithium supply chain is China, which leads as both the world’s largest lithium refiner and producer. However, western and now Russian companies are seeking to challenge this dominance.
The collaboration between ROSATOM and Nornickel will bring together the partners’ expertise, allowing for a full integration into the battery industry and the creation of the first domestic production of lithium-containing raw materials and Russian-made high-tech lithium batteries, the two companies said in a statement.
Furthermore, Nornickel has made a commitment to incorporate the voices of the indigenous peoples of Murmansk Region by employing the free, prior and informed consent procedure in the mine development project. This shows the company’s dedication to working with local communities and ensuring that their interests are considered, following previous challenges and a review of the company’s practices towards local communities in the Russian Arctic.