Nornickel Completes 30% Expansion of Talnakh Nickel-Copper Concentrator

Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel) has completed commissioning of a 30% expansion of throughput capacity and modernization of the Talnakh concentrator at its Polar division in north-central Russia. Total throughput capacity has increased from 7.6 million to 10.2 million mt/y of ore; target nickel and copper recovery rates and the target quality of nickel-pyrrhotite and copper concentrates have been reached; and metal losses to tailings have been reduced. The plant is meeting its metal production targets while utilizing less smelting capacity.

Total capex to complete the Talnakh expansion exceeded 47 billion rubles (about $850 million). In addition to higher operating efficiency and increased throughput, the Talnakh upgrade program also aimed at reducing the plant’s environmental footprint. Higher sulphur disposal to tailings combined with the shutdown of an out-of-date nickel smelter have helped reduce sulphur dioxide emissions in the Norilsk industrial district. An inability to capture sulphur at the old smelter — in production since 1943 — became the main factor for implementation of a comprehensive project for its closure, which was completed in mid-2016.

The major modernization project at the Talnakh concentrator was launched in 2014. Reconstruction and technical upgrades included expansion of the main building, installation of a Metso Minerals SAG mill with 10.2 million mt/y of throughput capacity, and new flotation machines and fine grinding mills. A new tailings pit was developed that will significantly reduce fresh water usage and environmental impact.

The new Metso SAG mill replaces 10 conventional ball mills and will cut size-reduction energy and repair and maintenance labor costs by approximately an order of magnitude. Cost for the mill replacement came in at about $21 million.

“Upgrade of the Talnakh concentrator is a key element of our downstream reconfiguration program, aiming at raising the operating efficiency of our business and reducing the environmental footprint of Nornickel’s production sites,” said Nornickel First Vice President Sergey Dyachenko. “In March 2017, the Talnakh concentrator reached the targeted throughput capacity, and in April, it reached its design parameters. Going forward, we will focus on enhancing the concentrator’s operating performance.”

As featured in Womp 2017 Vol 07 -