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Nornickel set to build copper plant in China after shutting Russian factory

Vladimir Potanin

Vladimir Potanin

22nd April 2024

By: Reuters

  

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MOSCOW - Metals giant Nornickel will close its copper plant that seeks to cut sulphur dioxide emissions in the Russian Arctic and build a new one in China, CEO Vladimir Potanin said, after Western technology partners refused to supply parts.

Nornickel, the world's largest palladium producer and a major producer of high-grade nickel, launched a multibillion-dollar project in October aimed at reducing sulphur dioxide emissions by 45% in Norilsk, Russia's most polluted city, through a complex capture programme.

Nornickel, though not directly targeted with Western sanctions over Moscow's actions in Ukraine, has changed the timing, cost and configuration of the programme several times, highlighting issues over foreign vendors' refusal to supply to Russia.

"The negative impact of sanctions against Russia's non-ferrous metals contributed to this decision," Potanin said in an interview with the Interfax news agency, published on Monday. "We, like other producers of Russian raw materials ... have faced customer refusals and the need to provide discounts."

This month, Washington and London prohibited metal-trading exchanges from accepting new aluminium, copper and nickel produced by Russia and barred the import of the metals into the United States and Britain to try to disrupt Russian export revenue.

"This pressure forced us to think about how to get our goods to the distribution market in the right way," Potanin said. "And one of these non-standard solutions is to transfer part of production to markets of direct consumption."

Potanin said Nornickel would create a joint venture in China to build the new plant, which should be constructed by mid-2027.

The transfer will mean the plant can be built using affordable technology, resolve possible sanctions issues, ensure proximity to markets and allow Nornickel to enter the battery production business, Potanin said.

China has become a major destination for Russian companies seeking to export their commodities after the United States imposed sanctions on Russia after it sent its army into Ukraine in February 2022.

Potanin said a joint project with German chemicals group BASF BASFn.DE in Finland had been put on hold.

 

Edited by Reuters

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