Russian mining company Nornickel has dismissed the management of the Talnakh concentrator for gross misconduct, after an internal investigation discovered two instances of unauthorised industrial water discharge.
The world’s largest producer of palladium and high-grade nickel said in a statement on Monday that industrial water was discharged from a recycled water sump, part of Talnakh Concentrator's tailings dam system, into the adjacent area using flexible pipes and floating pumps.
"Any violations of industrial safety or environmental protection should be completely eradicated.
“Nornickel announces zero tolerance towards environmental violations and will take harsh disciplinary actions whenever such violations take place," said first VP and COO Sergey Dyachenko.
The company has dismissed Talnakh Concentrator’s director, chief engineer and deputy chief engineer of operations and industrial and environmental safety for hydraulic structures.
In addition, the department of deputy director of the Polar division, chief engineer, would be reorganised, with a new department to be set up to focus solely on technical support and instrumental supervision of hydraulic structures of the Polar division.
The Polar division develops the Talnakh Ore Cluster, which includes the Oktyabrskoye and Talnakhskoye copper/nickel deposits of rich, cupriferous and disseminated ores.
Nornickel said that water samples indicated that the discharge should not have any material impact on the environment and on the Kharaelakh river.
Although there was no evidence that similar violations had been committed previously, Nornickel said it could not be completely ruled out.
Pressure is mounting on Nornickel after a May 29 fuel spill near the city of Norilsk left it with a hefty compensation bill. Russia’s environmental watchdog is demanding more than $2-billion in damages, although the company is disputing the calculation.
At the weekend, a smaller fuel spill occurred near the Tukhard settlement.
Nornickel chairperson Gareth Penny has vowed that the group’s environmental performance will improve.