Nickel Mining in Russia – Norilsk Nickel & Amur Minerals

Russian Nickel Reserves and Production Map with EEZ

World Nickel Reserves and Production in 2011

Reserves – World nickel reserves, according to the latest data by the USGS, amount to 80,000,000 mt.  From the chart on the right, one can see that Russia holds currently 7% of the world’s nickel reserves amounting to 6,000,000 mt, coming in fourth place after Australia, New Caledonia, and Brazil.

Production – World nickel production in 2011 amounted to 1,800,000 mt.  From the chart on the left one can see that Russia produced 16% of the world’s nickel production at 280,000 mt.  All of the nickel producing countries increased production from 2010 to 2011.  Canada, for instance, increased their production by 26% from 158,000 to 200,000 mt, whereas Russia only increased production by 7% from 269,000 to 280,000 mt.

Russian Nickel Reserves and Production – 2010

Norilsk Nickel – Of the 269,000 mt of Russian nickel production in 2010, Norilsk Nickel Russian operations were responsible for 88% at 236,000 mt.  Norilsk Nickel is currently Russia’s largest mining company, operating Nickel mines at both their Kola MMC and Polar Division (of the Taymyr Peninsula) locations.  Russian enterprises received an average price of 21,997 USD per tonne of nickel in 2010 compared with only 15,853 USD per tonne in 2009.

Norilsk Nickel Polar Division Map –

  • Polar Division – Within the Russian Taymyr Peninsula, the Polar Division oversees three nickel-copper-sulfide ore deposites that are currently being mined.  These consists of the Oktyabrsky, Talnakh, and Norilsk-1 deposits.  Talnakh deposits are considered to be of the largest in the world.  Proven and probable nickel reserves amount to 4,700,000 tonnes.  Nickel production in 2010 amounted to 124,200 tonnes or 46% of total Russian nickel production.

Port Dudinka – The Polar Division relies almost entirely on the Yenisey River to export production to the rest of the world via Port Dudinka (shown in above map) and then via the Northern Sea Route (read more).  Norilsk’s Polar Division thus shipped 124,200 tonnes of the worlds nickel production (8.7%) through the port in 2010.  The port closes for only one month each year, during the ice thaw that occurs through May to June.  During the winter months, icebreakers are used to clear the Yenisei River that links port Dudinka with port Dikson, and thus the Northern Sea Route.  Icebreaker-like cargo ships are used as well that do not usually require any assistance from standard icebreakers.

  • Kola MMC – Within the Russian Kola Peninsula, the Kola MMC division oversees the mining of the Zhdanovskoe, Zapolyarnoe, and Kotselvaara and Semiletka deposits.  Nickel reserves amount to 1,400,000 tonnes.  Nickel production in 2010 amounted to 111,300 tonnes or 41% of total Russian nickel production.  The Kola MMC division is fully integrated into the well-developed regional transport infrastructure.

Amur Minerals (updated – July, 2012) – With operations in Russia, the firm operates and is exploring the Kun-Manie nickel-copper-sulphide ore deposit in the far east Russian province of Amur.  Joint Ore Reserves Committee (JORC) compliant probable ore reserves and resources amounted to 170,500 and 341,000 tonnes respectively, of contained nickel as of Dec, 2011.  An application for a license extension was submitted in May, 2012, as the current exploration license expires at the end of 2012.  It is probably worth looking at the reserve grades and resource % Ni content here in the 2011 Annual Report for a better idea of ore quality.

In March of 2011, the Kustakskaya license, just east of the Kun-Manie deposit in the region of Khabarovsk, was returned to Russia.


  • Norilsk Nickel – Kola MMC –
  • Norilsk Nickel – Polar Division –
  • USGS – Mineral Commodity Summaries 2012 – Nickel –
  • Amur Minerals – 2011 Annual Report –

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