Nornickel plans to increase production at its nickel refinery in Finland due to the surging demand for battery raw materials in the European market.

Mainly powered by renewable energy, the Harjavalta plant uses sulphuric acid leaching for nickel semi-products to enable hydrometallurgical production of high purity nickel.

With a total nickel processing capacity of 65 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa), the plant primarily processes Nornickel’s feedstock from Russia.

The latest decision is part of the company’s efforts to ensure a global shift to a greener economy.

Nornickel plans to increase production at the NN Harjavalta plant to 75ktpa in 2023 in the first phase. The production will be further increased to exceed 100ktpa by early 2026 in the second phase.

Nornickel Harjavalta managing director Joni Hautojärvi said: “This expansion will further strengthen Harjavalta refinery’s position as one of the most sustainable producers of nickel and cobalt metals to the EV battery industry.

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“Our unique product portfolio combined with EV battery metals recycling development enables NN Harjavalta to be the leading European supplier of the critical metals to the growing battery sector in Europe.”

The refinery is equipped to produce nickel in cathodes, briquettes, crystallised salts and solution, and cobalt in crystallised sulphate and in solution.

In a press statement, Nornickel said: “The production process is based on sulphuric acid leaching of nickel semi-products, a modern, high-tech approach that enables over 98% extraction rate and is a perfect fit for the production of battery-grade nickel and cobalt.”

Nornickel is a member of the Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network (RSBN) and European Battery Alliance.