Siberian environmental disaster affects nickel producer Nornickel | NOW


Russian nickel producer Nornickel has seen its net profit fall by 39 percent in 2020 to 3.6 billion dollars (2.96 billion euros). The company cites the $ 2 billion fine for last year’s environmental disaster in May, when some 21,000 tons of diesel oil ended up in a Siberian river, as an underlying cause.

In an explanation of the annual figures, CEO Vladimir Potanin also mentions the influence of the corona crisis on the performance of the company. For example, there was less demand for nickel and copper. Due to the higher price to be paid for precious metals palladium and rhodium, Nornickel’s turnover increased by 15 percent to more than 15.5 billion euros.

The company also says it has learned lessons from last year’s environmental disaster. The leak started in May after the pillars of an oil tank sagged. This released the pressure in the tank, which was subsequently severely damaged. It is suspected that climate change is the underlying cause.

The tank was built on permafrost (always frozen ground), which may have been softened by global warming. The diesel oil ended up in the Ambarnaja river and in the soil around the Siberian city of Norilsk.

The clean-up work was completed at the end of 2020, after which repairs have started. Nornickel says his approach has been overhauled and the company has set specific goals for water management, biodiversity and climate change.

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