SO2 emission from Nikel will increase

Factory in Nikel

Norway has paid NOK 20,6 million for the modernization of the new briquetting process in Zapolyarny on the Kola Peninsula with the aim to reduce the emission of SO2. But, instead of being emitted from the briquetting process, the contained sulphur will be emitted as SO2 from the smelter in the neighboring town of Nikel.


Earlier this winter Norilsk-Nikel informed Norwegian authorities that they will not fulfil the agreement with the Nordic Investment Bank on improvement of the environmental impact from the smelter in Nikel on the Kola Peninsula, as reported by BarentsObserver.

Under the 2001-agreement, Norway was supposed to provide a grant of 270 million NOK (€32 million) and a 10-year loan of $30 million from the Nordic Investment Bank. The grant from Norway was also handled by the Nordic Investment Bank.

Parts of the Norwegian grant are however already sent over to Norilsk Nickel. The Norwegian Ministry of Environment says 48 million NOK (€5,65 million) is paid out to the company. Asked by BarentsObserver, the Ministry specify that NOK 20,6 (€2,4 million) is directly paid to the modernization of the plant in Zapolyarny.

In the course of today’s roasting in Zapolyarny, a part of contained sulphur is burnt out and discharged into the atmosphere as the smelter flow sheet does not include sulphur capture at the stage of pelletzing and roasting, Norilsk Nickel explains at their website about the ongoing modernization of the roasting plant.

The Norwegian Ministry of Environment is aware of the fact that reduction of sulphur dioxide emission in Zapolyarny will lead to increased emission in Nikel as long as nothing is done to modernize the process at the smelter in Nikel.

- The two projects, modernization in Zapolyarny and the modernization of the smelter in Nikel, have all the time been seen as one project to reduce the total emission. When the support was granted to the briquetting plant, we had reasons to believe that the modernization of the smelter in Nikel also would take place according to the agreement, the Ministry of Environment says in a note to BarentsObserver.

Norilsk Nickel writes on their website that the new process in Zapolyarny is expected to cut SO2 emissions fortyfold from 40,000 to 1,000 tons annually. The modernization of this roasting plant will be completed in early 2012 as earlier reported by BarentsObserver.

- When we now see that it is likely - at least for a period – that it will be an increase in the emission from Nikel almost equivalent to the reduction in Zapolyarny, it illustrates how important it is to bring about measures to reduce the emission in Nikel, the Norwegian Ministry of Environment writes in its note to BarentsObserver.

The sulphur in the ore roasted in Zapolyarny will stay in the pellets instead of being emitted. But, when the pellets are smelted in Nikel, the sulphur will be emitted as sulphur dioxide, and with no cleaning facility, the SO2-smoke will pollute the environment.

The Ministry says they will continue to bring up the question about the pollution from Nikel through all channels.  State Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Heidi Sørensen, discussed the issue in the last meeting with here Russian colleague, Sergei Donskoy, at last week’s meeting in the Norwegian-Russian environmental commission. The meeting took place in Oslo on December 8th.

The pollution of sulphur dioxide (SO2) from the nickel plant in Nikel is four to five times higher than the total emission from all SO2 sources in Norway. At the roasting plant in Zapolyarny and the smelter in Nikel the total emission of sulphur dioxide (SO2) was near 100 thousand tons in 2008.