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Russian mining giant Nornickel cuts 2021 production target due to flooding

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(Kitco News) - Nornickel, the world's largest producer of palladium and high-grade nickel and a major producer of platinum and copper, announced today that it is planning to restore full capacity of its flooded Oktyabrsky and Taimyrsky mines within the next 3-4 months.

According to the company’s statement, Nornickel’s Norilsk Division has developed a plan, with the base case scenario implying that the Oktyabrsky mine (5.0 mtpa of ore) will gradually ramp-up in the second half of April — May. The Taimyrsky mine (4.3 mtpa of ore) is scheduled to resume mining in early June, with a full recovery expected to take approximately one month.

The company is currently implementing a plan to stop the inflow of groundwaters.
The process of blocking water inflow is complicated by its high intensity and the geological conditions at the locations of the cofferdams’ installation, said Nornickel. Currently, the Norilsk Division management is operating under the base case scenario. Nevertheless, due to the outlined circumstances, the risk of an additional delay in the implementation of this plan cannot be completely ruled out, the company added.

At Norilsk Concentrator, the disseminated ore processing circuit (5.2mtpa ore throughput) has been idled and repairs are being carried out. The circuit is scheduled to be ready for re-start by April 15th. At the same time, the concentrator is currently being inspected by the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological and Nuclear Supervision (Rostekhnadzor) and the company’s internal auditors. The exact timing of the restart will be decided based on the results of these inspections.

The Norilsk Concentrator’s copper circuit (4mtpa of ore throughput) resumed operations on March 15th after a temporary shutdown for technical inspections and repairs. During the downtime, the Zapolyarny mine (the South Cluster project) continued mining.

According to the company’s current base case estimates, metal production volumes are expected to fall short of the 2021 production guidance as follows: nickel — by approximately 35kt, copper — by 65kt and platinum groups metals — by 22t (approximately 710koz).

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