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MMC Norilsk Nickel

MMC Norilsk Nickel
FoundedJune 30, 1993
Headquarters Moscow
Key peopleAndrey A. Klishas, Chairman of the Board of Directors
Mikhail D. Prokhorov, General Director, President and Chairman of the Management Board
Igor Anatolievich Komarov, Deputy General Director
Revenue~ US$7 bn (2005)

MMC Norilsk Nickel (RTS: GMKN MICEX: GMKN) (Russian: ГМК «Норильский Никель») is a nickel and palladium mining and smelting operator in the Norilsk–Talnakh area, in northern Russia. Norilsk is headquartered in Moscow and is also active in gold, platinum, copper and cobalt. The company is the world's leading producer of nickel and palladium and is Russia's leading gold producer. It is ranked among the top four world platinum producers, in association with subsidiary Stillwater Mining Company of Billings, Montana Denver, Colorado. It is ranked among the top ten copper producers.

July 6, 2007 Norils Nickel announced it has acquired about 90 per cent of Canada's LionOre Mining International Ltd. LionOre is the world's 10th-largest nickel producer. This takeover (valued in $6.4 billion US) is the biggest acquisition by a Russian company abroad so far.

The company is listed on NASDAQ and the RTS Stock Exchange. According to the company's English-language website its activity accounts for up to 1.5% of Russia's current gross domestic product. MMC stands for "Mining and Metallurgical Company".



Mining began in the Norilsk area in the 1920s. The government of the USSR created the "Norilsk Combine" in 1935 and passed control to the NKVD at that time. Mining and metal production continued first with Gulag forced labour, later with much volunteer labour, owing to the comparatively good wages offered. In 1993 after the fall of the Soviet Union a joint-stock company was created: RAO Norilsk Nickel. Two years afterwards control over the deeply indebted company, that was bleeding cash at a rate of about two million dollars a day amid falling nickel prices, was given to a private company called Interros. By the time the privatization was completed in 1997, the company became profitable and the workers were paid. Nowadays average pay is over a thousand dollars per month and workers enjoy two to three months of vacations; nevetheless, working and living conditions in Norilsk remain harsh.

Starting in 2002, MMC Norilsk Nickel began purchasing gold mining assets, which were spun off in 2005 as Polyus Gold, now a sister company. In 2003, the company took control of Stillwater Mining Company, the only US producer of palladium. Stillwater operates a platinum group metals (PGM) facility in Stillwater, Montana in the USA.


  The nickel deposits of Norilsk-Talnakh are without doubt the largest nickel-copper-palladium deposits in the world. The deposit was formed 250 million years ago during the eruption of the Siberian Traps igneous province (STIP). The STIP erupted over one million cubic kilometres of lava, a large portion of it through a series of flat-lying lava conduits lying below Norilsk and the Talnakh Mountains. The Siberian Traps are considered to be responsible for the mass extinction event at the end of the Permian.

The ore was formed when the erupting magma became saturated in sulphur, forming globules of pentlandite, chalcopyrite, and other sulphides. These sulphides were then "washed" by the continuing torrent of erupting magma, and upgraded their tenor with nickel, copper, platinum, and palladium. The current resource known for these mineralised intrusion exceeds 1.8 billion tons.

The ore is mined underground via several shafts, and a decline. The ore deposits are currently being extracted at >1,200 m below ground. The ore deposits are drilled from the surface.

The deposits are being explored using electromagnetic field geophysics, with detection loops on the earth's surface with dimensions of over 1,000 m on a side. They are conclusively able to image the conduction nickel ore at depths in excess of 1,800 m.

Environmental problems

Ore is smelted on site at Norilsk. The smelting is directly responsible for severe pollution, including acid rain and smog. By some estimates, 1 percent of the entire global emission of sulfur dioxide originates here. Heavy metal pollution in the area is so severe that the soil itself has platinum and palladium content which is feasible to mine. [1]

The pollution is also affecting Norway which since 1990 has offered financial support to clean up the operation, due to official Russian neglect and the company's lack of interest this has however not materialised.

Production divisions

The company has three main divisions:

  • The Polar Division of MMC Norilsk Nickel and ancillary activities, located in the Taimyr Peninsula
  • Kola MMC, and ancillary activities, located in the Kola Peninsula (incorporating the Pechenganickel and Severonickel Combines, the former in Nikel City and Zapolyarny, the latter in Monchegorsk)
  • Stillwater Mining Company

Related organizations

Gipronickel Institute, in St Petersburg performs the design and construction of Norilsk's facilities. Gipronickel does research in every field of metallurgy, including extraction, patenting, design and more.

Norilsk Nickel also owns the port of Dudinka, mainly used to load nickel and palladium on ships for export.

Interros Holding Company, based in Moscow, is the controlling shareholder of Norilsk.

In partnership with Argosy Minerals of Australia, Norilsk attempted to operate Nakety/Bogota, a nickel mine on the island of New Caledonia in the South Pacific. Norilsk has withdrawn from this project.


CVRD Inco, BHP and Anglo Platinum are important competitors to Norilsk in the production of nickel and of palladium.

VSMPO Avisma Corporation and Almazjuvelirexport are two Russian competitors to the company.

See also

  1. ^ Blacksmith Institute - accessed 18-10-06.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "MMC_Norilsk_Nickel". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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