Nornickel stops water inflow at two Arctic mines

Nornickel stops water inflows at two Arctic minesTaymirskiy mine. (Image courtesy of Nornickel.)

Russia’s Nornickel (MCX: GMKN), the world’s largest palladium miner and a significant nickel producer, said on Monday it had stopped water flowing into two Siberian Arctic mines, adding that both were on track to fully resume production in the coming months.

Nornickel partially suspended output at the Oktyabrsky mine and the interconnected Taymirskiy operation on February 24 after subterranean water flowing into one of them, first detected on February 12, intensified.

The water was stopped thanks to the installation of barriers and after the company poured 32,000 tonnes of concrete into the mines. The method is a traditional way of dealing with the sudden inflow of water to underground mines, although Nornickel’s case has been complicated by the intensity of the inflow.

Oktyabrsky is expected to resume full production in the first 10 days of May, while Taymirskiy is scheduled to resume in early June, Nornickel said in the statement. The mines account for 36% of ore mined by the company in Russia.

Nornickel stops water inflows at two Arctic minesThe inflows are just one of the issues Nornickel has had to deal with this year. (Image courtesy of Nornickel.)

The inflows, which have forced Nornickel to cut its 2021 output forecast by about 20%, are just one of the issues it has had to deal with this year. The miner was recently ordered to pay about US$2 billion in compensation after a massive diesel spill from one of its fuel tanks in the Arctic last year.

A few days later, three people were killed when a roof of the ore reloading facility and adjoining walkway at the Norislk concentrator plant collapsed during repairs. The facility processes ore from several operations, including from the water-affected mines.

The company noted it now estimated that its 2021 output guidance in the baseline scenario will fall short of the initially announced plans by about 35,000 tonnes nickel, 65,000 tonnes of copper and 22 tonnes of platinum group metals.


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