Fuels economy – destroys environment
Norilsk-Nickel earns money from increased production and pays over RUB 10 billion in regional tax to Murmansk Oblast. Despite large income, the company is still ranked to be the top polluter of the Barents Region.
Kola GMK together with the Murmansk Transport Division of Norilsk-Nickel made about a third of the consolidated budget of Murmansk region in 2011. The two entities transferred RUB 10 billion (€257 million) to Murmansk in tax last year, the company reports.
In addition, Norilsk-Nickel paid about RUB 30 billion (€772 million) of taxes to the federal budget from all its entities in Russia. That is twice as much as in 2010.
The start of 2012 is a continuation of the good production trends from last year.
In the first quarter of 2012 the Polar (in Norilsk) and Kola Divisions produced 58.6 thousand metric tons of nickel, being 3 percent higher than in the same period 2011, the company reports in a press-release.
Despite its enormous income, Kola GMK is still putting little focus on reducing the harmful emissions from its production sites in the Murmansk region. The company says it spent RUB 1.5 billion (€38,6 million) on ecological measures on the Kola Peninsula in 2011.
The pollution from Kola GMK’s plants in Monchegorsk, Zapolyarny and Nikel has for decades been listed as the most serious environmental hot-spot problem in the entire Barents Region.
The smelter in Nikel, a few kilometers from the border to Norway, emits around five times as much sulphur dioxide as all sources in Norway together. The company says in a press-release that Kola GMK polluting discharges in 2011 were in line with statutory norms and did not exceed the limits.
That is not in accordance with the views of neighboring Norway. The pollution issue was raised in Oslo during President Dmitri Medvedev state visit in 2010. The two countries then agreed to establish a joint working group to find a solution to the cross-border pollution problem. Today, two years later, the two parties have not even agreed on the mandate for this working group.
Norway expressed its dissatisfaction with the slow-motion process once again at a March meeting in Moscow between Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry Trond Giske and Russian First deputy Prime Minister Victor Zubkov.
In the mean time, the smog of sulpur dioxide and heavy metals continues to destroy the fragile northern environment on both sides of the border.