Nornickel to supply EU nickel battery market from its Finland’s refinery

Key nickel, copper and platinum group metals producer Norilsk Nickel is targeting itself to become a larger player in the European battery value chain as it expands its Harjavalta nickel refiner in Finland to 100,000 mt/year by 2026, according to the company’s webcast.

Nornickel’s senior vice president, strategy, strategic projects, logistics & procurement, Sergey Dubovitskiy, said the company was targeting substantial market share in the battery segment through supply agreements and deeper integration into the European battery value chain.

“We’re taking a closer look at integration opportunities with key battery materials players in Europe, and this is definitely an area for strategic consideration for the next strategic cycle,” Dubovitskiy said.

Capacity of the Harjavalta refinery is 65,000 mt/year, which Nornickel is expanding to 75,000 mt/year in 2023 and then to 100,000 mt/year by 2026 as part of the second phase expansion plans to meet growing demand in Europe for batteries for electric vehicles.

The company is also aiming to meet additional demand for nickel-based lithium-ion batteries, which are rising in popularity because of the need for higher EV power capacity and range.

“The development of Harjavalta becomes a crucial element in our market strategy in the responsible sourcing for emerging European battery materials segment,” Dubovitskiy said.

Dubovitskiy added that the European value chain for batteries and EVs was evolving, with the industry exploring the right sourcing models, market structures, integration formats, efficient feedstock forms and geographical distribution of different value chain segments.

“Potential clusters are emerging in northern Europe and particularly Finland, so we can say Nornickel is uniquely positioned, with a vast resource base and proven operational model, one of the lowest carbon footprints in the industry, an expanded facility in Finland, and with all these factors it has all the potential to become a supplier and partner of choice,” Dubovitskiy said.

Norilsk Nickel is also planning to expand its copper refining capacities at Kola to 150,000 mt/year, with the additional nickel and copper refining capacities due to support its long-term strategic ambitions for metal production to 2030 and beyond of 25%-35% growth in nickel volumes and 25%-35% in copper.

The refinery upgrades will be funded using the producer’s updated long-term capex program for 2021-30, which it increased by $6 billion to $35 billion. In addition, it is also almost doubling its concentration capacity from 19 million mt/year to 36 million mt/year by 2027, with the Phase 3 Talnakh concentrator upgrade and the construction of a new Norilsk concentrator, and will increase smelting capacities by over 25% from 4.6 million m/year to 5.8 million mt/year with the construction of a third furnace at the Nadezhda smelter and continuous converting unit at the copper smelter.

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