One of the oldest nickel smelters in Russia will permanently close.

MMC Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of palladium and high-grade nickel and a major producer of platinum and copper, is shutting down the smelter in the town of Nikel in Russia’s Murmansk region. It is the company’s oldest production facility. This is part of Nornickel’s comprehensive environmental program, which aims to significantly reduce the environmental impact at all production sites. Hazardous emissions at Russia’s Norwegian border will cease.

“Today will be a symbolic event — the melting of the ‘last ladle,’ after which the smelting shop will be closed,” Nornickel President Vladimir Potanin said. “This is a historic event for Nornickel. Following the closure of the smelting facilities in Nikel, we are modernizing our metallurgical production in Monchegorsk, including the construction of new state-of-the-art facilities. It is important for us to ensure that our own production meets modern requirements.”

Murmansk Region Gov. Andrey Chibis said workers who wished to remain with the company were offered jobs in other units. For those who decided to try their hand at entrepreneurship, good starting conditions were created.

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 program, it is planned to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions at Kola MMC by 50% in 2020 and by 85% by 2021.

Editor’s note: Nikel was founded in the late 1930s to exploit the large nickel deposits in the region. At the time, it was part of Finland. The Finns began mining in the region in the 1940s with the help of Canadian miners. The Red Army invaded the region during the Winter War between Finland and Russia. Despite having superior weaponry on the ground and in the air, the Russians suffered heavy casualties. They defeated the Finns in a second attempt. The three-month Winter War ended in March 1940 with the signing of the Moscow Peace Treaty. Finland ceded 11% of its territory, which included Nikel, to the Soviet Union.