MMC Norilsk Nickel is shutting down a smelting shop in the town of Nikel in Russia’s Murmansk region. It is the company’s oldest production facility to date. Its shutdown is part of Nornickel’s comprehensive environmental programme, which aims to significantly reduce the environmental impact at all production sites. With the closure of the shop, hazardous emissions into the atmosphere at the Russia’s Norwegian border will cease. The decision to close the smelting facility was made by Nornickel in November 2019. The closure will completely eliminate sulphur dioxide emissions in the cross-border area with Norway. Due to the implementation of the programme, it is planned to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions at Kola MMC by 50% in 2020 and by 85% by 2021.
After the shutdown, the customer service and the clean-up service will continue to operate in the shop. Within a year after the shutdown, the shop’s building will be prepared for mothballing: it will be cleaned, materials containing non-ferrous metals will be collected and sent for recycling.
With the closure of the smelter, the production chain will be adjusted: concentrate from the Zapolyarny concentrator will be delivered to concentrate shipment hubs, from where it will be supplied to consumers. The technical re-equipment of the plant and the parallel construction of the concentrate loading facilities are important components of the Nornickel’s environmental project.
The smelting shop in the town of Nikel is the oldest metallurgical facility of Kola MMC. Before the Great Patriotic War, the area on which it was located belonged to Finland. The construction of the smelting shop was organised by a Finnish-Canadian consortium, Petsamo Nikkeli, in 1938. The construction was completed in 1942 by Finland and Germany. In 1944 the factory was blown up when the German army retreated. After Nikel was passed to the Soviet Union, the reconstruction of the smelter started. On November 19 1946, the first five tonnes of Soviet high-grade matte were produced. Over 74 years the shop smelted 61.8 million tonnes of nickel-containing feedstock and produced over 2.4 million tonnes of nickel in high-grade matte.
Throughout its history, the smelting shop was modernised and expanded several times. In the 1960s, powerful ore-thermal electric furnaces, converters and a pilot plant for the production of roasted pellets were put into operation in the smelting shop. In the 1970s, the converter slag depletion furnace was commissioned and a sulphuric acid plant was built.
In 1991, the smelting shop in Nikel became one of the largest in the industry. It was processing 1.33 million tonnes of ore material and churning out 100,000 tonnes of high-grade matte per year.
In 1998, the smelting shop became part of the newly formed Kola MMC. As part of the smelting shop’s emission reduction plan, a number of measures were taken: automatic charging was introduced in the ore-thermal furnaces, and frequency converters to control exhaust blowers were installed at the converter. In 2013, the shop saw the construction of a new casting, a special platform for installing molds into which high-grade matte is poured. In 2016, the shop’s ore-thermal furnace No. 5 underwent overhaul.