2 Growth Projects Will Expand Norilsk Industrial District Output

These thickeners are examples of the substantial investment Nornickel is making to upgrade its concentrators.
(Photo: Nornickel)
Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel) has made final investment decisions on two growth projects to be developed by its Polar Division in the Norilsk industrial district of north-central Russia. New mining operations will be developed on the district’s South Cluster deposits, and throughput capacity of the Talnakh concentrator will be increased from 10 million metric tons per year (mt/y) to 18 million mt/y. The combined investment in the projects is planned to total about 90 billion rubles (about $1.4 billion) over the next four years.

The South Cluster project will develop the northern part of the Norilsk-1 deposit, which was the basis for the original development of Norilsk Nickel. The project will give new life to the heavily depleted deposit. Mineable resources of disseminated ore total about 165 million mt. Ore mining capacity is planned to reach 9 million mt/y in 2027.

With all necessary infrastructure in place, stripping for open-pit mining at the South Cluster is scheduled to launch in 2019, and mine ramp-up is planned to start in 2021-2022. During the first phase of the project, an existing open pit will be expanded. A second phase will revamp the existing underground mine. Capital investment for the South Cluster project is budgeted at more than 45 billion rubles.

Nornickel is expecting added production of more than 20 mt/y (about 643,000 ounces per year) of platinum group metals (PGMs) from the South Cluster project, as well as some nickel and copper as byproducts. On a standalone basis, the project will be among the world’s largest PGM producers. In 2018, Nornickel’s Polar Division produced 987,000 oz of palladium and 240,000 oz of platinum. The expansion of the Talnakh concentrator includes rollout of a new, more efficient enrichment technology. Upon project completion, all of the ore mined at the Talnakh deposit will be processed at the Talnakh concentrator, which should yield economies of scale and improve overall recovery rates in the concentration process. Total capital investment in this project is estimated at about 40 billion rubles. The project is planned for commissioning in 2023.

Upon completion, the Talnakh concentrator will likely become the world’s largest concentrator for nickel sulphide ores. Having all of the Talnakh ores treated at a single concentrator will free up the Norilsk concentrator in the district to treat feed from the South Cluster project. The two projects will create more than 2,000 jobs in the Norilsk industrial district. Nornickel President Vladimir Potanin said, “Nornickel’s management team has been preparing the platform for growth since 2013. Now we are ready to make a step change transformation from a steady state to a sustainably developing operation.

“Our strong 2018 financial results combined with a favorable macro environment support the company’s strong financial position and enable our investments into prospective growth projects. “Our corporate plans fully correspond with Russia’s long-term strategic social and economic development targets. We anticipate that new capital investments will result in an unprecedented increase in our output of base metals and PGMs, all of which enjoy strong demand globally.”

As featured in Womp 2019 Vol 05 - www.womp-int.com