Russia-based nickel and palladium miner Norilsk Nickel has commenced pilot operations at its Arctic-based Talnakh concentrator plant, following stage one of an upgrade worth more than RUR3bn ($46m).
Norilsk Nickel CEO Vladimir Potanin said: "Reconstruction of the Talnakh concentrator plant is a milestone on the way towards realisation of the large-scale downstream strategy of Norilsk Nickel.
"The project will substantially increase productivity and improve the quality of the ore concentrate. Enhancement of the environmental conditions in Norilsk is also a function of this project."
In its new development strategy, the company stated its commitment to shutting down outdated and polluting production facilities in the Norilsk city area.
As part of the upgrade, the company installed new advanced floatation cells at the Talnakh milling and floatation shop, together with other up-to-date downstream equipment such as automated pumps, process pipework and power lines.
Norilsk Nickel has also put in place an integrated operations centre for the entire process.
According to the company, the second stage of the concentrator's modernisation is scheduled for launch in 2016, and the third is to go online in 2018.
The Talnakh concentrator plant has a total capital expenditure of RUR43bn ($663m) and is expected to expand its ore processing capacity by up to 16.5 million tonnes a year (Mtpa) against the existing capacity of 7.5Mtpa.
Norilsk Nickel resolved to reconstruct the Talnakh plant in April 2013.
The retrofit and upgrade project is claimed to have passed the state expert board review.
Image: Norilsk Nickel plant in Murmansk Oblast, Russia. Photo: courtesy of Hans Olav Lien.