Nornickel plans US$1.3B overhaul of energy, fuel facilities

Russian nickel, platinum and copper producer Nornickel plans to spend 100 billion rubles (US$1.3 billion) modernising fuel and energy facilities in the Siberian Arctic in the wake of a catastrophic oil spill at one of its power plants there earlier this year.
Nornickel plans US$1.3B overhaul of energy, fuel facilities Nornickel plans US$1.3B overhaul of energy, fuel facilities Nornickel plans US$1.3B overhaul of energy, fuel facilities Nornickel plans US$1.3B overhaul of energy, fuel facilities Nornickel plans US$1.3B overhaul of energy, fuel facilities

The northern tundra of the Taimyr Peninsula viewed from the air

The investment programme will be carried out by 2025 and focus on improving the energy infrastructure for "new growth projects", including those built on permafrost in the Taimyr Peninsula, said the company. 

The programme includes the replacement of equipment at heating and hydropower stations, an upgrade of power grid and gas pipeline systems, and a modernisation of fuel tank storage, said the company.

A rupture in a fuel storage tank at a Norilsk thermal power plant in May, caused by ground instability due to thawing permafrost, released an estimated 21,000 tonnes of diesel into the Daldykan River.

"The priority of our corporate strategy is sustainable production growth, and this is impossible to execute without the development of infrastructure. For this very reason, Nornickel is aligning its investments in modernisation of the fuel and energy complex with the development of our mining and metallurgical assets," said chief operating officer Sergey Dyachenko.

Dyachenko added the company plans to introduce a systematic monitoring of permafrost areas to see how they are affected by climatic fluctuations in Taimyr.

The region's year-round permafrost is melting at a rapid pace that scientists didn't anticipate for another 30 to 80 years. This year, average Russian Arctic temperatures were as much as 3-5 degrees Celsius higher than normal.

"[The monitoring system] will ensure top-level safety of our energy infrastructure as this is critical to our production assets and to residents of Norilsk industrial district," said Dyachenko.