Nickel Plant Closure

In August 2016, Norilsk Nickel completed an important stage of a large-scale sustainability-driven production capacity reconfiguration programme, under which the obsolete Nickel Plant was completely shut down.

Project objective

To shut down an obsolete nickel production facility (Nickel Plant) in Norilsk, Russia, and solve related environmental and social issues.

Project scope

To modify the production chain and eliminate sources of air pollution at the obsolete nickel production facility.

Project objective

The Nickel Plant is the Company’s oldest asset (commissioned back in 1942) located within the city of Norilsk, Russia.

SmeltingA pyrometallurgical process performed at high temperatures enabling the complete melting down of the processed material.Go to the glossary

1,000 kt
of concentrate
RefiningThe process of extracting high-purity precious metals through their separation and removal of impurities.Go to the glossary

120 kt
of nickel


372 kt
of sulphur dioxide
(SO2) annually

Historical outlook — the Nickel Plant’s key milestones

  • February 1942

    The first ladle of converter matte was poured at furnace No.1 of the Big Metallurgical Plant which later changed its name to the Nickel Plant in 1948

  • April 1943

    The first batch of cathode nickel was produced which had been long awaited at the country’s defence plants. Four months later the first T-34 tank with armour made of Norilsk metal rolled off the production line

  • April 1952

    The Tank-house was officially opened

  • June 1959

    The first ore thermal furnace at the plant was put into operation, which was at the time the biggest in Europe

  • 1960

    Construction of the drying shop


    Construction of the converter matte shop


    Construction of the sinter shop


    Nickel Plant. View from helicopter


    Nickel Plant. View from helicopter


    Journalist’s visit of Norilsk and the Norilsk Nickel enterprise

Nickel Plant Shutdown Timeline


23 May 2014

Nornickel, Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the government of Krasnoyarsk Territory and Norilsk City Administration signed an agreement on the Nickel Plant’s accelerated shutdown.


Production perspective:

  • All the required modernisation activities were completed at the Polar Division facilities to process all nickel feedstock from the Nickel Plant.
  • Nickel concentrate smelting capacities were expanded at the Company’s other production assets (Kola MMCMining and Metallurgical CompanyGo to the glossary, Norilsk Nickel Harjavalta and the Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant).
  • Electrolytic nickel production was relocated from the Taymyr Peninsula — to Kola MMCKola Mining and Metallurgical CompanyGo to the glossary and Norilsk Nickel Harjavalta.
  • Major reconstruction at the Talnakh Concentrator was performed to ramp up its capacities and modernise technology; as a result, an efficient modern non-ferrous metal ore dressing centre was launched.

Social perspective:

Unprecedented job creation and training programmes were implemented along with social programmes aimed at supporting the workers from the plant; due to the large-scale of the project, a package of measures was offered to the workers who wanted to continue working for the Company and for those wanting to retire.

  • Designated consulting centres were established where workers could seek advice about other professions and receive support in their job search.
  • In order to preserve the staff’s unique competencies, the Polar Division’s functions and Russian subsidiaries took steps to create additional jobs for the workers.
  • Professional training was largely carried out by the Norilsk Nickel Corporate University, in line with its existing programmes; for those who opted to discontinue their employment, various social programmes were developed and delivered (including the Metallurgy Veterans Programme and benefits for vulnerable categories).

Plant shutdown

February 2016

Start of the Nickel Plant’s gradual shutdown.

August 2016

Complete shutdown of all technological processes at the Nickel Plant.

Nickel Plant Decommissioning

In 2016–2021

Dismantling and conservation work will be performed at the Nickel Plant facilities in the Polar Division.

Project outcomes

As a result of the Nickel Plant shutdown:

  • Following the modernisation project, the region saw a dramatic improvement in its environmental position due to both a reduction in pollutant air emissions and enhanced process flow sustainability advances at other metal production facilities of the Polar Division.
  • Waste is no longer generated by the core operations (including coal processing waste and metallurgic slag)
Elimination of

≈600 sources
of pollutant emissions

in the residential area in Norilsk
were down

-15% sulphur

in the Polar Division total
compared to 2015
were down

-30% sulphur

within the city of Norilsk
compared to 2015
Shut off of

2 waste water
discharge points

at the Nickel Plant
  • Professional re-training was organised for workers transferred to the Company’s other subsidiaries.
New jobs for

≈65% of workers
in the Polar Division units and the Company’s other subsidiaries
only accounted for

3% of the total headcount
at the Nickel Plant
  • Total investments to shut down the Nickel Plant and modernise the production chain with a view to making it more technologically advanced and reduce the number of air pollution sources in the Polar Division over 2014–2016 totalled approx. USD 900 m.
Nornickel’s aggregate expenditures
1,382  m RUB
on social programmes