2021 sustainability report

Tailings dumps
and waste

Sustainable waste and tailing dump management

GRI 306-2/ SASB EM-MM- 150a.10 EM-MM-540a.2

Nornickel aims to minimise the environmental impact of waste from its operations. To this end, the Company ensures responsible management of tailings facilities, maximises tailings processing, and finds alternative uses for the remaining waste. Nornickel strives to ensure safe operation of tailing dumps, assesses and minimises risk of emergencies in tailings management.

GRI 306-1 ММЗ

About 99% of waste generated by the Company is comprised of rock, overburden, tailings, and metallurgical slags, which are classified as hazard class 5 (non-hazardous waste).

In 2021, the Group generated 156.4 mt of waste. A significant increase starting from 2020 is attributable to including Bystrinsky GOK in the reporting scope following its ramp-up to design capacity in 2020, and more feedstock processed. In 2021, Bystrinsky GOK generated 85.5 mt of waste, including ca. 77.8 mt of overburden and 7.6 mt of tailings, which is a year-on-year reduction. The deposit development stage which involves large volumes of overburden generation is nearly completed.

Waste generation, mt

GRI 306-3

Waste generation

Contribution to combating contamination with waste

GRI 306-2 306-4

Nornickel strives to contribute to fostering non-waste production by developing and implementing waste recycling approaches, making efforts to clean up existing pollution. Waste generated by the Company is used by third parties and Nornickel itself for preparation of filling compounds, as flux for melting of metal in melting furnaces, for construction and strengthening of tailing dumps, railroad groundwork, road filling, etc. Such disposal of waste minimises its adverse environmental impact.

In 2021, Nornickel disposed of 23,7 mt of waste, including recycling of 13.5 mt of waste.

The Company launched the Clean Norilsk programme to clean up areas contaminated with industrial and construction waste.

RUB bn — was earmarked for the sanitary clean-up of industrial areas

In the coming decade, we expect to finish waste collection and land reclamation in the Norilsk area, with a view to cleaning up the land from unused and demolished objects, including 467 abandoned buildings and structures, over 1.3 mt of straits and traces of production activity, more than 2 mt of waste, and over 600,000 t of scrap metal. This project also promotes the goals of the Environment national project. A dedicated area improvement unit was established at Polar Division to implement this programme.

In 2021, the Company cleared over 750,000 m2 of the Norilsk Industrial District from construction debris, scrap metal, and run-down buildings as part of the Big Clean-Up in Norilsk initiative. We dismantled 108 unused buildings and structures, removed 39 kt of scrap metal and 250 kt of construction waste.

We consider design and construction of local waste processing facilities to reduce the amount of waste disposed of at landfills and prepare waste for reusing.

In-house waste disposal, mt

In-house waste disposal

Waste disposal

GRI 306-5/ SASB EM-MM- 150a.10 EM-MM-540a.1

All of the Group’s waste disposal sites are listed on the national disposal site register. The sites are regularly monitored in line with designated environmental programmes.

Tailing dumps

SASB EM-MM-540a.2

We pay particular attention to tailings management, ensure tailing dump integrity and safety, carry out additional safety monitoring of hydraulic structures, and timely respond to changes during tailing dump life cycle.

In 2021, MMC Norilsk Nickel adopted the Tailings Management Policy, a foundational document that informs decision-making in this area.

Nornickel’s tailings management objectives:

  • Dispose of all waste generated as part of new projects by leveraging technologies that help to minimise environmental impact, by 2031
  • Eliminate all accumulated waste by 2030
  • Increase the share of mineral waste recycling
  • Implement the principles of the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management

The Company currently operates six tailing dumps.

The Company regularly monitors the condition of hydraulic structures of tailing dumps and conducts environmental monitoring on-site and within the impact area.

Nornickel complies with the Russian laws associated with tailings management, and our facilities have all the required permits. Additionally, we developed mandatory safety criteria to operate each tailing dump and had them approved by regulators.

Nornickel performs tailings risk management. To this end, we have organisational units and officers providing regular reports to the management. Such units engage qualified and experienced staff responsible for identifying and analysing tailings risks, developing relevant controls, and reviewing them for effectiveness.

The Company regularly performs internal and external review and assurance processes so that controls for tailings risks can be comprehensively assessed and continually improved. The hydraulic structures are constantly monitored by the operating personnel and a dedicated environmental team.

In addition, Rostechnadzor provides external oversight of tailing dumps. The Company and Rostechnadzor carry out annual inspections of hydraulic structures prior to freshets. Every five years, the hydraulic structures are subject to detailed inspections by a Rostechnadzor-certified agency that issues an industrial safety declaration upon which Rostechnadzor carries out a comprehensive audit.

Over the last five years, there have been no environmental incidents at our hydraulic structures and no instructions from supervisory bodies to fix either critical or pre-critical condition.

SASB EM-MM-540a.2

All Nornickel’s tailing dumps are located away from production facilities and residential areas. Potential damage estimates show minimum risks for local communities, ecosystems, and critical infrastructure in case of an emergency.

Nevertheless, the Company develops emergency preparedness and response plans taking into account the strongest potential impact as required by the Russian laws. The plans determine roles, responsibilities, and communication procedures. The emergency preparedness and response plans as well as the public warning system are subject to regular testing.

Nornickel has all necessary material and financial resources required to respond to an emergency at its tailing dumps and promptly repair any damage, including a sufficient fleet of excavators, dump trucks and other vehicles (as outlined in the ERPs). Employees operating the tailing dumps undergo regular dedicated training and knowledge tests mandated by Rostechnadzor.

Number of tailing dumps


Polar Division

Number of tailing dumps



Talnakh Concentrator, Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant


Medvezhy Ruchey LLC

Number of tailing dumps



Norilsk Concentrator


Kola MMC

Number of tailing dumps



Zapolyarny Concentrator


GRK Bystrinskoye LLC

Number of tailing dumps



Bystrinsky Concentrator