Tailings and Waste Management
Norilsk Nickel’s priorities are to minimize the environmental impact of waste from our operations, to ensure efficient waste management practices, to find alternative uses for the remaining waste, to implement responsible sourcing, and to maintain the safe operation of tailings facilities.
We recognize that:
- Mining and metallurgical production generates waste that needs to be recycled and disposed of safely, to minimize environmental impact.
- Tailings facilities are high-risk assets with the potential for significant environmental and social impact, and tailings should be managed responsibly. The Company must ensure the responsible disposal of waste and the safe operation of tailings facilities through the entire lifecycle, including design, construction, operation, closure and post-closure.
- The Company should put in place systems, policies and procedures to prevent failure of tailings facilities and ensure sound risk management.
- It is necessary to adopt international best practices, amend our internal procedures accordingly, and undertake independent audits for the efficient and safe operation of tailings facilities under leading international standards.
- The Company should support UN SDG 12 Mining, Responsible Consumption, Production, UN SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities and Global Tailings Standards.
Norilsk Nickel's targets:
- Introduce the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management.
- Apply technically and financially feasible resource efficiency and pollution prevention principles and techniques that are suited to avoid, or where avoidance is not possible, minimize, the adverse impact on human health and the environment from waste generated as a result of our operations.
- Work with experts and business partners to ensure that waste management strategies minimize the risks to local communities.
Tailings and Waste Management Strategy
Norilsk Nickel has developed a Holistic Environmental Strategy, which includes a Tailings and Waste management strategy with robust CAPEX allocation through to 2030.
Key next steps:
- Establish a mass balance planning model for waste at the Group level;
- Initiate cooperation with partners and the state on efficient waste management;
- Perform self-assessment under the Global Tailings Standards.
Norilsk Nickel has a policy of transparency in relation to its management of waste and tailings facilities. For more information please refer to our annual Sustainability report page 211.
Tailings Facilities Overview
Norilsk Nickel currently operates six tailing facilities:
- Four in the Polar Division and Medvezhy Ruchey, taking tailings from the Talnakh and Norilsk concentrators and the Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant;
- One at Kola MMC, storing tailings from the Zapolyarny Concentrator;
- And the Bystrinsky GOK tailing dump.
Tailings Facilities Safety Reviews
Norilsk Nickel acts responsibly to ensure tailing facility safety and regularly monitors the condition of tailing facility hydraulic structures and assesses the condition of the dump sites and nearby areas. Organizational structures and roles are established to support the management of tailings facility risks and governance accountability. Role competency and experience requirements are defined for critical roles within our established organizational structures. Suitably qualified and experienced personnel are involved in tailings facilities risk identification and analysis as well as in the developing and reviewing the effectiveness of associated controls. Internal and external review and assurance processes are in place so that controls for tailings risks can be comprehensively assessed and continually improved. External oversight is provided by the Federal Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service of Russia (Rostechnadzor). Hydraulic structures are subject to comprehensive audits every five years, with mandatory prior provision of the hydraulic structure safety declarations. The declarations are produced by an independent expert agency accredited by Rostechnadzor upon the detailed inspections of the hydraulic structures. Outcomes and actions arising from tailings review and assurance processes are recorded, reviewed, closed-out and communicated. Over the last five years, no environmental accidents have been recorded across the Company’s hydraulic structures and no orders from supervisory agencies were received to fix either critical or pre-critical conditions. Hydraulic structures are constantly monitored by operating personnel and Norilsk Nickel’s environmental team. Norilsk Nickel’s employees involved in the operation of tailing facilities undergo regular specialized training and knowledge tests mandated by Rostechnadzor.
Emergency Preparedness and Response
All tailings facilities operated by Norilsk Nickel are situated far from production sites and human settlements. Potential damage estimates show minimal risks to communities, ecosystems and critical infrastructure in the event accidents happen.
Emergency preparedness and response plans are established and are commensurate with potential failure consequences. Such plans specify roles, responsibilities and communication procedures. Emergency preparedness and response plans are periodically tested.
As required by Russian law, contingency (emergency) plans (ERP) have been developed for all operating tailings storage facilities and a public warning system is in place. Norilsk Nickel has all necessary material and financial resources required to respond to an emergency at its tailing dams and promptly repair any damage, including a sufficient fleet of excavators, dump trucks and other vehicles (as outlined in the ERPs).
For more information please refer to our presentation.
Tailings Facilities Disclosure
Following an inquiry from a group of investors led by the Church of England Pensions Board and the Council on Ethics of the Swedish National Pension Funds (AP Funds), Norilsk Nickel published a special report on the safety of all its hydraulic structures. More information is available in this report.
Waste collection in the Norilsk area
Norilsk Nickel is committed to significant investment in waste collection and land reclamation at the Norilsk area in 2020-2030
Goal — Clean-up of the territory from unused and demolished objects:
- 467 abandoned buildings and structures;
- 1,3+ M tons of straits and traces of production activity;
- 2+ M tons of waste;
- 600+ K tons of scrap metal.
Norilsk Nickel plans to undertake the following actions:
- Collect stainless steel scrap, scrap metal;
- Recycle scrap metal;
- Dismantle buildings and dispose of waste;
- Perform sanitary cleaning of the area.
To achieve these goals, Norilsk Nickel will develop new capabilities:
- Establish a specialized unit for cleaning and subsequent land rehabilitation;
- Purchase more than 40 units of specialized equipment.