2021 sustainability report


GRI 413-2

Reduction of emissions is one of the key objectives pursued by the Company’s operational units as part of environmental management. The major part of air pollutants (over 60) are emitted by Polar Division’s various operations, and sulphur dioxide accounts for around 98% of all emissions. Nornickel takes stringent measures to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions, in particular by implementing Sulphur Programme 2.0, the largest environmental initiative of the Company in terms of scope and financing.

Nornickel’s air protection objectives:

  • Reduce Polar Division’s sulphur dioxide emissions by 90% by 2025 as compared to 2015
  • Keep other air emissions (NOx, solids, etc.) at one of the lowest levels in the industry
  • Introduce an air monitoring system to assess and act on ambient air quality and dust associated with mining
  • Comply with best practices and global standards on air-related disclosures

Nornickel participates in the Fresh Air initiative, a part of the Environment national project. The Company’s objectives to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions and implementation of the automated monitoring system for pollutant emissions are in line with the national project.

Air quality monitoring and forecasting system

Nornickel takes care of people living close to its production facilities and complies with statutory emission levels. To that end, we are rolling out an advanced air quality monitoring and forecasting system in Norilsk and Monchegorsk. The system infrastructure will include automated air quality monitoring stations transmitting data for analysis under the atmospheric dispersion model. The air quality data will be available on a web platform and in special interfaces with various access levels.

The new system will make it possible to:

  • provide data for prompt decisionmaking by a plant dispatcher to change the production process for preventing or minimising emissions;
  • inform residents on air quality in the city in general and in each district;
  • provide data on maps, charts, or widgets;
  • view air quality measurements from each station;
  • set up various notification scenarios in case of excessive emissions;
  • visualise dispersion using a mathematical model with a 48-hour forecast.

In Norilsk, the first stage of system rollout is completed, including equipment procurement and graphical interface set-up, installation and commissioning of a network comprising 16 stations, providing access for managers, employees, and ecologists, training and briefing of specialists, integration with City.Online portal. It is planned to purchase additional equipment, extend system functionality with a mathematical model, and pilot the system based on the model.

In Monchegorsk, a trajectory model for Kola MMC was successfully tested as at the end of 2021. The model is recommended for roll-out. In the coming years, it is planned to purchase a modelling system and 11 stations, perform FEED, install and set up a monitoring system, and train users. Streaming through the data portal for residents will commence after piloting of the system.

In addition to City.Online portal, which already provides real-time data on air quality, Polar Division runs an automatic toll-free enquiry service offering shortterm environmental forecasts for the city area to communicate its environmental efforts to the people of Norilsk.

In addition, the Company used light unmanned aerial vehicles for monitoring environmental conditions on the Kola Peninsula and in the Norilsk Industrial District in 2021.

Air pollutant emissions

GRI 305-7/ SASB EM-MM-120a.1

In 2021, total emissions of the Company’s Russian assets amounted to 1,643.8 kt, down 16% year-on-year. As at 2021, Polar Division was the Group’s largest pollutant emitter with emissions totalling 1,646.9 kt*, down 11% year-on-year.

Improvement in air pollutant emissions was mainly due to lower sulphur dioxide emissions at Norilsk and Kola divisions. Norilsk Division’s reduction was mainly triggered by temporary suspension of mining and processing operations, while Kola Division’s sulphur dioxide emissions reduced by 78% year-on-year due to Sulphur Programme 2.0.

Since the Nickel Plant was shut down in 2016, SO2 emissions within Norilsk city limits have decreased by 30–35%. According to Rospotrebnadzor, the total number of newly diagnosed diseases went down by 23% (in 2020 vs. 2016), including diseases of blood, haematopoietic organs, and other disorders, including those of the immune system, dropped by 48%, respiratory diseases by more than 11% and circulatory diseases by 23%.

Air pollutant emissions, kt

Air pollutant emissions

Air emissions by pollutant, kt

Air emissions by pollutant

Air protection efforts

Sulphur Programme 2.0

The Sulphur Programme is Nornickel’s flagship environmental project on sulphur dioxide capture and recovery, which is one-of-a-kind globally. The technology makes it possible to capture up to 99% of SO2, convert it into sulphuric acid and then into gypsum.

The total CAPEX for Sulphur Programme 2.0 is estimated at around USD 4.1–4.3 bn.

Sulphur Programme 2.0 provides for a gradual reduction in sulphur dioxide emissions in the Norilsk Industrial District and on the Kola Peninsula as our key geographies.

Norilsk Division

Delivering the Sulphur Programme at Norilsk Division requires cutting sulphur dioxide emissions by 45% in 2023 and 90% in 2025.

Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant is implementing a project to capture furnace gases and build facilities, including related infrastructure, to neutralise sulphuric acid with limestone and produce gypsum. Under the Sulphur Programme 2.0, Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant has already installed over 9.6 kt of steel structures and performed over 67,100 m3 of concrete works. Construction of future gypsum storage facility to place the product with properties close to those of rock gypsum, is underway.

The construction of a continuous copper converting facility and sulphuric acid neutralisation lines is underway at the Copper Plant to capture 99–99.5% of SO2 at the main smelting units. In 2021, gas cleaning unit reconstruction continued, while basic engineering/ design of the facility was completed. The construction is to start in 2022.

Kola Division

Under the Sulphur Programme, Kola MMC discontinued pyrometallurgical production in its metallurgical shop in 2021.

The smelting shop in Nickel was shut down as far back as in December 2020, the refining stage copper chain in Monchegorsk was shut down in March 2021, which considerably improved air quality and cross-border emissions have been fully eliminated on the Norwegian border.

Sulphur Programme 2.0 roadmap

The shutdown of Kola MMC’s smelting operations in the settlements of Nickel and the metallurgical shop in Monchegorsk resulted in 90% reduction in sulphur dioxide emissions at Kola Division compared to 2015.

Production flows of closed facilities are redirected to Norilsk Division. To replace obsolete facilities, a new copper refining line is being constructed using modern environmentally friendly technologies.

Use of ozone-depleting substances

GRI 305-6

Nornickel neither produces nor uses ozone-depleting substances (ODS), except for extremely limited amounts used as a chemical agent for laboratorybased chemical analysis as well as for filling and topping compressors in air conditioning units and carbonated water machines that produce water used as a cooling agent for medium- and lowtemperature refrigerating equipment. The Company reports on the use of such substances to the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment as required.

There were no ODS emissions in 2021.