A Norwegian study has found a “substantial” amount of metals and minerals ranging from copper to rare earth metals

A Norwegian study has found a “substantial” amount of metals and minerals ranging from copper to rare earth metals on the seabed of its extended continental shelf, authorities said on Friday in their first official estimates.

The Nordic country, a major oil and gas exporter, is considering whether to open its offshore areas to deep-sea mining, a process that requires parliament’s approval and has sparked environmental concerns.

“Of the metals found on the seabed in the study area, magnesium, niobium, cobalt and rare earth minerals are found on the European Commission’s list of critical minerals,” the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), which conducted the study, said in a statement.

The resources estimate, covering remote areas in the Norwegian Sea and Greenland Sea, showed there were 38 million tonnes of copper, almost twice the volume mined globally each year, and 45 million tonnes of zinc accumulated in polymetallic sulphides.

The sulphides, or “black smokers”, are found along the mid-ocean ridge, where magma from the Earth’s mantle reaches the sea floor, at depths of around 3,000 metres (9,842 feet).

About 24 million tonnes of magnesium and 3.1 million tonnes of cobalt are estimated to be in manganese crusts grown on bedrock over millions of years, as well as 1.7 million tonnes of cerium, a rare earth metal used in alloys, Reuters reports.

Norway prolongs coal mining at Svalbard until 2025

“The coal will be used in production of steel in Europe,” says Minister of Industry, Jan Christian Vestre in a prepared statement.

He argues that there are serious uncertainties in regard to European industries’ access to critical raw materials, including the production of steel. The war in Ukraine causes an extraordinary situation.

“Norway will take its share of responsibility to secure supply of raw materials,” Vestre says.

The majority of the coal export from Svalbard will be used for reductions in steel mills and not to be burned in power plants in Europe.

Mine No. 7 is located some 15 kilometers southeast of Longyearbyen and is the only remaining Norwegian-operated coal mine in the Arctic archipelago. The mine supplies the local coal-power plant with about 30,000 tons of coal annually, while another 80,000 tons are exported to customers in the European metallurgical and chemical industry.

Additional to Norway, a Russian state-owned coal mine is operated in Barentsburg.

In 2020, Mine No. 7 was flooded by water from an above melting glacier. The first water penetration was discovered the day after temperatures in the area reached a record hit of 21,7°C. Production was halted from late July to early November that year.

Svalbard sees the most extreme increase in temperatures due to global climate changes.

The region around the northern Barents Sea has over the last years seen a warming that is 2 to 2,5 times higher than average in the Arctic and 5 to 7 times higher than global average, according to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.

This June, average temperature at Svalbard airport Longyearbyen was 6,0°C, which is 2,4°C above average for June and the warmest ever recorded, Barents Observer writes.

Nordic Mining illegally releases carcinogen

On the evening of Thursday 5th May, in western Norway’s pristine Sunnfjord district, Nordic Mining demolished a barn with an asbestos roof. Inspectors stopped the work on Friday afternoon, citing an “imminent danger of spreading asbestos dust”. The same day, Norway’s Ministry of Trade and Industry dismissed complaints from 12 stakeholders and formally licensed Nordic Mining’s widely contested Engebø titanium dioxide and garnet silicate open pit mining project.

Witnesses today confirmed that the crew has continued working 50 metres away from the barn, while the carcinogen remains on the now fenced-off demolition site. Asbestos dust can linger in the air for up to 72 hours once disturbed, and even a slight breeze can re-disperse the fibres. On the morning of Thursday 12th May, 29 activists chained themselves to machinery on the site, with approximately 50 others gathered around the perimeter.

Nordic Mining’s carelessness with asbestos matters because these fibres are lethal. Asbestos is the world’s most notorious industrial carcinogen and causes lung disease and cancer, including mesothelioma, which is almost always fatal. The WHO estimates that asbestos kills about 107,000 people every year. The material has been outlawed in most European countries, including Norway, since the late 1980s. According to activists on the ground, both the demolition contractor and project management gave assurances that all relevant licenses for the work had been issued, before being ordered to stop work by the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority later that day due to a lack of “necessary measures in place.”

Nordic Mining’s controversial 50-year mining plans

Engebø’s open pit mine will literally take the top off the mountain. Over its lifetime, the project will pipe some 250 million tonnes of toxic waste slurry to the bottom of the 300-metre-deep fjord. That habitat is home to a rich variety of bottom-dwelling fauna, as well as several red-listed and protected species, coastal coral, sea eagles, and orca pods. It is also one of Norway’s designated National Wild Salmon Fjords. The European Free Trade Association’s surveillance authority is now reviewing whether the plans would breach the EU Water Framework Directive; 2019 documentation states that the waste slurry will contain sodium isobutyl xanathate (SIBX), which is extremely toxic to aquatic life. Natur og Ungdom (Nature and Youth) and Naturvernforbundet (the Norwegian Society for Nature Conservation) have announced a joint lawsuit against the government over their approval of the project. The original purchaser of the garnet silicate product, Barton Group, pulled out of its agreement with Nordic Mining in February 2020.

The plan at Førdefjord has drawn fierce opposition ever since it was announced. Norway and Papua New Guinea are the only two countries that still allow new projects to dump mining waste directly into the ocean, and the practice is now widely considered environmentally disastrous as well as physically unpredictable. Nordic Mining insists it will maintain “high environmental standards” throughout the project, but claims that marine disposal is the only viable option (it also happens to be by far the cheapest). The company is also pursuing licenses for seabed mining.

Nordic Mining’s mishandling of asbestos has cemented local opposition to its waste disposal plans. Nordic claims that the waste slurry will remain on the fjord bed without seeping into the water, but scientists generally dispute that toxins deposited in marine environments will stay contained. “I don’t trust Nordic Mining and their entrepreneurs to follow up on these environmental safeguarding measures, seeing how they have proceeded so far,” said Tonje Fjågesund, who has today been fined by police for peaceful civil disobedience at the site. “They are not acting professionally and they know it. I don’t understand how investors and politicians still have faith in the company and its partners.”

Alongside a groundswell of international opposition to the project, some four thousand people have pledged to participate in civil disobedience through Young Friends of the Earth. On 12th May the country’s largest youth-led environment group, Nature and Youth, ended a direct action campaign that impeded work for two weeks and saw more than 60 activists arrested; others are petitioning the project’s purchasing partner for titanium ore to cancel its agreement with Nordic Mining. Local fishing groups have also come out strongly in opposition to the project, including the Norwegian Coastal Fishermen’s Union, the Norwegian Biodiversity Network, Norwegian Salmon Rivers, the Norwegian Association of Hunters and Anglers, and the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research.

Finally, most Norwegians oppose ocean dumping. According to a December 2021 Norstat survey, 80 percent disapprove of mining companies being allowed to deposit waste materials in the sea, as Nordic Mining plans to do in the Førdefjord and the Repparfjord. Only 9 percent support the projects.

Silent fjord: what’s at stake

It’s already clear from footage of the last few days’ construction work that the landscape will change, perhaps beyond recognition. In this pristine fjord, the diggers look otherworldly, ungainly, bright, like they distort everything around them visually and make it grim and functional—which, of course, they literally do.

The new fjord soundscape is equally disorientating. Gone are the wide open spaces, the gentle silences, the intangible energy that insects have in quiet places where they make everything vibrate just a little bit. Gone are the shimmering echoes that you can hear across lakes and valleys, when every rustle of leaves goes floating over the surface, and the water itself whispers something indistinguishable to you. Between the crackling gravel under giant truck tyres, the clanging rocks, and the straining, grating engines, the heavy machinery sounds like some kind of biblical landslide.

After the mine reaches the end of its lifespan sometime in the 2060s, its real cost will not be noise. Removing the top of Engebø will destroy a wild mountain habitat, kill and displace its birds and insects, and undo its waterfalls. Coating the floor of the fjord in crushed rock and heavy metals is less certain—its outcome will depend on Nordic Mining’s engineering abilities, which are not substantial if the past week is anything to go by. But it will almost certainly increase toxicity within the ecosystem. Its price will be silence.

Such is the level of opposition, however, that the project will now have to face down monumental national and international opprobrium. That will be uncomfortable and commercially and politically unsustainable for shareholders, customers, suppliers, agencies that enable it and a government that stands by and allows it to happen. For now, it will be confronted by the prospect of legal action and continued civil disobedience, Sonification writes.

Norway: EMX will receive a 9.9% stake in Mahviez, 2.5% NSR royalty interests

Canada’s EMX Royalty has agreed to divest its Mo-i-Rana volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) project in Norway to Sweden-based Mahvie Minerals.

According to the deal, EMX will sell the project in exchange for 9.9% of the issued and outstanding shares in Mahvie.

EMX will also receive annual advance royalty payments, work commitments, 2.5% net smelter return (NSR) royalty interests, and other considerations.

Through an arm’s length transaction, Mahvie will purchase a 100% interest in the EMX subsidiary that owns the project.

The Swedish mining firm will have the option to purchase a 0.5% NSR on the project by paying $1.5m to EMX on the sixth anniversary of the deal.

EMX will receive $25,000 in annual advance royalty (AAR) payments for the project. This will be effective from the third anniversary of the closing of the transaction.

This AAR payment will be increased by $5,000 annually until it reaches $100,000.

EMX will also receive $500,000 in cash or Mahvie shares upon the completion of the project’s pre-feasibility or feasibility study.

EMX will work with Mahvie to explore the Mo-i-Rana project, where substantial exploration upside is said to exist at several historical occurrences and mines.

In a press statement, EMX said: “Much of the historical exploration work was done at a time when VMS models were only poorly understood and only limited portions of the nine individual VMS horizons that exist in the belt have been tested to date.”

The two firms plan to use deposit models and modern exploration methods to make additional discoveries in the belt.

The Mo-i-Rana VMS belt, which was acquired by EMX last year, holds more than 200 mines and prospects with VMS and carbonate replacement (CRD) styles of mineralisation.

Located in central Norway, the VMS belt comprises numerous polymetallic (zinc-lead-copper-silver-gold) occurrences and historical mines, Mining Technology writes.

Mineral Commodities announced results from Trælen Graphite Mine in Norway

Trælen Graphite Mine is part of the Skaland Graphite Operation on the island of Senja, Norway.

In March this year, Mineral Commodities began a 17-hole, 3000-metre drilling program to expand the resource down dip. As of June 30, 14 holes were completed and the company expects the program will finish next month.

So far, the results have confirmed the continuity of mineralisation at Trælen and the potential to upgrade the mineral resource.

The indicated and inferred resource currently sits at 1.78 million tonnes at 22 per cent total graphitic carbon (TGC) for 397,000 tonnes of contained graphite using a 10 per cent cut-off grade.

Significantly, drilling intersected up to 44.5 per cent total graphitic carbon (TGC) at Trælen which confirms it as one of the highest grade operating flake graphite mines in the world.

Latest and best results include 15.7 metres at 30.6 per cent TGC from 99.9 metres, 27.7 metres at 35.6 per cent TGC from 63.2 metres including five metres at 44.5 per cent TGC from 81 metres, and 16.8 metres at 35.3 per cent TGC from 80 metres including 5.5 metres at 40.7 TGC from 89 metres.

Acting CEO Russell Tipper commented on the results.

“These drilling results confirm that the very high-grade graphite mineralisation at Trælen continues along strike, down dip of historical mining operations,” he said.

“We are looking forward to an upgraded mineral resource estimate, targeting an upgrade to the current resource, as well as Skaland’s first ore reserve estimate after the drilling campaign is completed.”

Mineral Commodities expects to deliver an updated mineral resource for the Trælen mine by the end of the September quarter.

Company shares ended the day 6.67 per cent in the green and closed at 16 cents.

Source: themarketherald.com.au



MRC’s graphite production in Norway

“The commencement of decline mining represents a new chapter in the life of Trælen mining operations, which until now have been following the graphite ore up the mountain,” said Mineral Commodities (MRC) acting CEO Russell Tipper.

MRC has started mining operations at the Trælen graphite mine, in Norway, through its 90%-held subsidiary Skaland Graphite.

“It not only supports continued processing operations at Skaland, but also our exploration and infill drilling programme targeting the delivery of an expanded resource base and the first mineral reserve estimate for Trælen in the coming months.

“In parallel, we are processing metallurgical testwork to support an expansion of production at Skaland with the delivery of a prefeasibility study early in the fourth quarter.  Skaland continues to be a cornerstone of MRC’s strategy for a value added graphite business,” said Tipper.

MRC’s anode strategy aims to produce natural anode material using low-cost renewable energy and environment-friendly purifying technology to capitalise on the growing demand for sustainably manufactured lithium-ion batteries throughout Europe.

Skaland’s production is expected to ramp up from 10 000 t/y in 2020 to 2022, towards 16 000 t/y in 2023, with studies to further expand production currently under way.

Meanwhile, MRC also reported that the Section 93 order at its 50%-held Tomrin mineral sands operation, in South Africa, remained in effect.

MRC’s 50%-held subsidiary Mineral Sands Resources earlier this year received a notice from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) concerning alleged non-compliance with the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, and with the conditions of the mining rights over the Tomin operation.

A review of the operations was undertaken and the DMRE undertook a site visit, and while Mineral Sands Resources noted that areas where improvement in compliance were required had been implemented, the Section 93 Notice remained in effect.

Source: miningweekly.com



Norwegian Nussir gets cooperation agreement with municipality for fully-electric copper mine

An agreement between Hammerfest municipality in Norway and Norwegian company Nussir was signed. The agreement allows for local business and job opportunities, the company said, stating that fewer people would have to leave the municipality to find employment. The copper mine project will be a fully-electrified mine powered by renewable energy.

“For a generation, Kvalsund has suffered from severe population decline, predominately due to residents seeking employment opportunities that are only available in larger cities. We want to play a role in reversing this decline, delivering growth and prosperity in the region and, in turn, helping to protect the practices and language of the local Sámi people,” said CEO Øystein Rushfeldt.

Nussir mining project would be fully electrified, with no diesel engines running in the mine. “Combining zero carbon use with Norway’s almost 100% clean renewable energy grid is the ultimate combination for bringing the much-needed copper metal to market in a climate sustainable way,” the firm stated.

Mining consultancy firm SRK is currently carrying out an electrification study in order to update the company’s feasibility study in line with this. The project, which is fully permitted, hosts 80-million tonnes of copper ore at an average grade of 1.14%.

Source: miningweekly.com


Capella Minerals restoring Norway’s copper sector

Historically important Norway’s copper mining sector has supplied the metal to Europe since the Age of Enlightenment.

Capella Minerals has a market capitalization of CAD$10 million. Its major shareholders include Austria-based Fruchtexpress Grabher, Canada-based Sandstorm Gold, Management and Insiders, and US-based EMX Royalty.

Capella Minerals acquired the Central Norwegian Løkken and Kjøli copper-zinc-silver gold projects in August last year from EMX Royalty Corp and is undertaking drill target generation activities to position itself to help supply Europe’s shift to widespread electrification and Norway’s transition from oil to commodities required for green energies.

“These were extensive mining districts—both of them. They’re high-grade copper deposits, they’re massive sulfide type deposits. These districts lie along the extensions to some very important copper producing regions in north-eastern Canada, such as Bathurst and Buchans. Geologically they’re part of the same trend,” Capella’s chief executive officer and director Eric Roth said.

“Most people think of Norway as an oil producing country— and something that is forgotten is that Norway had a long history of copper mining. A lot of these districts started mining in the mid-1600s and they continued until the mid-1980s,” Roth said.

Løkken, having been in production until its closure in 1987 on the back of low metal prices, had an estimated production of 24 million tonnes at 2.3% Cu and 1.8% Zn. Kjøli has the two principal mines of Killingdal and Kjøli and numerous smaller mines and mineral occurrences along 15 kilometres of strike. Both are district scale projects and include silver and gold credits.

The country’s reputation for producing copper may have faded from minds across the globe, but it remains close to the hearts of many in Norway. So much is copper in the DNA of Røros—the district where Kjøli resides—that the old copper symbol and two crossed mining tools adorn its coat of arms. And copper mining gave birth to the village of Løkken in 1654. And this history brings more than just curiosity—there are modern real-world benefits.

“There’s a lot of brilliant infrastructure in place—especially at Løkken because it was so big. It was actually the largest known massive sulfide deposit of its type by tonnage,” the Capella chief said, noting that the underground mine ran a significant 4 kilometres in length. At the eastern end, there was daylight—the western end was about a kilometre underground.

“There’s a lot of infrastructure around Løkken —a lot of the old shafts, some old mining and processing infrastructure, and an electric railway that runs down to the deep-water port at Orkanger which is only about 25 kilometres away.

“The country itself has fantastic infrastructure and with the mining infrastructure on top of that—it’s a great opportunity. The former mines were very compact operations as they were mostly underground and the final product was a copper-rich concentrate produced on-site using flotation cells. And in terms of processing, even throughout Norway and Sweden, there are plenty of places you can process copper concentrate. So it’s the full package, really: from exploration potential to really good infrastructure—from project level all the way up to producing the final copper for European markets,” he said.

But even more so than that—the history brings with it the crucial aspects of local knowledge and overall public support.

“A lot of people who live in these areas had family – fathers or grandfathers – who worked in the mines. So they understand mining in these districts. And people certainly understand that they need copper for electric vehicles, energy transmission, and batteries. So far we’ve had a lot of support at the local level— and permitting in Norway is fairly straight forward,” he said,. “And clearly one of our goals will be to ensure that the local communities and all stakeholders also benefit from our presence – whilst we also adhere to international best practices in terms of taking care of the environment.”

It was weak copper prices and Norway’s ingenuity being redirected towards the booming oil market which led to mines being shuttered throughout the 80s. And the Nordic nation’s industrial credentials certainly shone in recent times with the country becoming the world’s largest oil and gas producer on a per-capita basis outside of the Middle East.

But 30-something years later, it’s a much different world— which requires another pivot in focus and Capella is laying the groundwork for Norway to advance in a new direction.

“Norway can be self-sufficient in copper because it’s obviously a key commodity going forward and their dependence on oil will wane as time goes on. So, we see this as a valuable addition to their economy.

“I think in the future, copper will mean a lot to them. In both of these projects, you’ve got the former underground mines but you’ve also got 10-15 kilometres of prospective stratigraphy where we see good potential for the discovery of new massive sulfide occurrences – and these could grow into significant resources,” Roth said.

And Capella is working away to find out exactly what’s there. Once the company has identified the priority targets, it’ll begin drilling—most likely this year. Given the highgrade aspects of the copper, the mining operations could be relatively small which reduces both cost and environmental impacts.

“These deposit types are very attractive for small companies because they are relatively small Capex to build and their environmental footprint is relatively small and easy to manage. As they are high grade deposits they also have the potential to generate very good cashflows – and be so-called “company makers” – whilst also generating significant income for local communities through direct employment and the supporting of local service providers. Basically, the minimum target size we’re looking for is about 10 million tonnes of high-grade ore for each,” he said.

Along with the Norwegian assets, Capella’s portfolio also includes the three high-grade Canadian gold projects of Doman, Manitoba, and Savant Lake, NW Ontario as well as the Swedish Southern Gold Line project. Roth, himself, has extensive experience having been chief executive officer of Extorre Gold Mines and chief operating office of Mariana Resources which were acquired for CAD$440 million in 2012 and $175 million in 2017, respectively. He also had experience at AngloGold Ashanti and Aur Resources.

Source: mining-journal.com


Norwegian phosphate, vanadium and titanium raw materials discovery

A lucrative phosphate deposit in Norway caught the attention of local scientists. What sounded rather unspectacular at first has turned into one of Europe’s most fascinating discoveries. Norway does not belong to the EU. Its huge deposit has certainly piqued the interest of the 27-member bloc and China. Michael Wurmser was a banker, investor and strategic consultant before he met new business partners from Norway. They offered the Swiss national five licenses for the phosphate deposit. Wurmser’s company claims to have discovered the biggest deposit of its kind globally, which could produce 70 billion to 80 billion tons of ore-containing material.

After backing from Swiss and German investors, Wurmser and his partners founded Norge Mining in the UK in 2018. They started taking soil samples in the Dalane region in sparsely populated south western Norway. Besides phosphates, two other important minerals were found: vanadium and titanium. Vanadium is tipped to become the most important raw material of the future. About a tenth of all globally mined vanadium is currently used to produce high-performance batteries that store renewable energy. Vanadium batteries are far superior to conventional lithium-ion batteries. They can be charged faster and survive 10 times more recharging/discharging cycles without losing performance. Besides that, recycling them is easier. Titanium is important for the steel industry, while phosphates are required for the production of fertilizers.

Electromagnetic field tests, carried out from a helicopter in 2019, produced a 3D visualization of the whole ore deposit. At first, Norge Mining only expected the raw materials to reach a depth of 300-400 meters (984-1,312 feet). Further test drilling and lab studies helped them calculate that the mineralization of the ore deposit reaches at least 2,200 meters (7,217 feet) deep. The company now believes the depth could be up to 4,500 meters.

“At first, we didn’t expect the deposit to have such gigantic dimensions,” Wurmser told DW. Norge Mining says it has since secured six licenses for the development of an area four times the size of Paris, some 420 square kilometers (261 square miles). In 2012, the Geological Survey of Norway put the value of the deposit at some €30 billion ($36.4 billion). But that estimate assumed the ore deposit would have a depth of just 100 meters.

British consulting firm SRK calculated that the total ore body contains 70-80 billion tons of phosphate-containing material, which would make it the world’s largest phosphate deposit, ahead of Morocco’s 50 billion and China’s 30 billion tons. Added to this is some 3.5 billion tons of ore-containing rock material, which contains 2.45 million tons of vanadium. Norge Mining didn’t provide any details on the titanium deposit.

Critical raw materials for the EU


The Norwegian mega deposit has spurred the European Union’s interest, all the more since phosphate, vanadium and titanium are on the European Commission’s list of critical raw materials. The list contains 30 rare earths and other minerals which are classified as crucial for the bloc’s economic and climate protection policies but predominantly need to be imported. Often, importing these materials is risky or complicated. China, for instance, has reserved the right in its latest five-year plan to curtail exports of rare raw materials should they be needed for domestic production.

Over 60% of the EU’s phosphate, vanadium and titanium supplies come from China, along with 20% from Russia and the rest from Kazakhstan, Morocco and other African nations. By 2030, demand is likely to soar — up to 58% for vanadium alone, according to Berlin-based consortium EIT RawMaterials. Seeking to reduce the risk of supply bottlenecks, Brussels has created the European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA). The initiative is backed by 160 companies, including Norge Mining, to make raw-material supply chains resilient.

But the company hasn’t specified just how much vanadium, titanium and phosphates it aims to supply to the bloc, arguing it’s too early to say. After all, it will take about five years to begin extraction. The EU doesn’t see an immediate bottleneck in the supply of critical raw minerals, but the Economic Council of Germany’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party has called for the creation of reserves just in case.

Alternative to oil exports


The European Commission is in talks with Norwegian authorities about potential supplies. Oslo, with its dwindling oil reserves, is already readying itself for the post-fossil fuel era. Extracting and exporting rare earth minerals could become a new pillar of economic growth. Odd Stangeland, the mayor of Eigersund where the huge deposit is located, told DW the locals are happy about the discovery, especially as Norge has pledged to adhere to strict environmental protection standards. Such is the backing for rare earth minerals, a highway may be rerouted so as not to be in the way of future mines, despite costing €330 million. Wurmser thinks that is a relatively small sum, given the expected yields. He says the Dalane deposit could be a multigenerational project, lasting for more than a century.

China calling


Wurmser noted how rare earth minerals have become a political hot potato. As well as the EU, China’s state-run enterprises are taking a keen interest in its Norwegian project. “Every 10 days, there’s a call from China,” Wurmser told DW, sensing an unspoken wish to buy his firm, which he insisted is out of the question. “We only see them as potential recipients [of our minerals].”

In contrast, Norge sees the EU as a key partner, as it will help the bloc realize its ambition of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. This goal cannot be achieved without green technologies and long-lasting batteries, produced with the help of rare raw minerals that are mined responsibly, he told DW.

Source: dw.com



Closure of Nornickel’s plant, Barents region’s biggest air polluter

Oligarch and Nornickel CEO Vladimir Potanin first announced the closure of the plant last fall, a move affecting about 800 workers. With just six weeks before the shutdown, only two workers have not chosen any of the options offered by the company.

Damage to human health, the environment and cross-border relations with Norway have made the town of Nikel in the Murmansk region infamous much further than its acid rain has damaged the fragile taiga forest on the Kola Peninsula and northern Scandinavia. Tens of thousands of tons of sulfur dioxide and other hazardous gases have annually been emitted from the chimneys of Nornickel’s factory in the town named after the metal produced there.

By Dec. 25, the last workers involved in smelting production will be transferred to new jobs. After that, according to the company’s human resources and social policy director Anna Krygina, the remaining workers will work in customer service and taking apart equipment. This work is scheduled to continue to the end of 2021. In an interview with the Nornickel-sponsored TV21 television channel, Krygina said many of the workers will retire, while many others will fill vacancies at Nornickel’s subsidiary Kola Mining and Metallurgical Combine. The company operates mines in Zapolyarny while the production now shutting down in Nikel will partly be transferred to the larger factory complex in Monchegorsk.

“Today we are talking about plans for the workers. Now, the documentation and implementation of all these plans are starting. So we still have two months of hard work,” Krygina said in the interview.

Nikel is a typical ‘monogorod,’ a town whose economy centers around a single major company or industry. Many locals fear their town is doomed, but officials have made promises to compensate the job losses. Transitions to other industries, like tourism, have been named as a priority by both Nornickel and regional authorities. Successful or not, many of the current employees at the plant will move elsewhere. The Barents Observer has previously reported on unsold apartments in Nikel on the market for 100,000 rubles ($1,300), or about as much as a new iPhone.  The smoke will be gone by Christmas Day, but the factory will still dominate the town’s skyline. Production machinery and equipment are to be transferred to other divisions of Nornickel in the Murmansk region and on the Taimyr Peninsula in Siberia. The buildings will be demolished by 2025 and will be followed by a two-year land reclamation period. By 2027, the smelter that was erected a few years after World War II will be history.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the smelter received ore from Norilsk which contained much more sulfur than from the local mines in Nikel and Zapolyarny. At their peak, annual emissions reached up to 400,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2). In the last two decades, SO2 emissions have been reduced to less than 90,000 tons per year. The smoke brings additional tons of heavy metals into the air which also spread across the border to Norway, where the maximum allowed SO2 limits for air quality have notoriously been violated.

Source: themoscowtimes.com