Arctic Port of Dudinka Resumes Operations after Spring Flooding

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Jun. 8 – Russian metals giant Norilsk Nickel resumed shipments from its Arctic port of Dudinka after flooding prompted a seasonal halt. The port of Dudinka, the company’s main export outlet, resumed its operations on Sunday, Norilsk said in a press release.

Suspension of loading operations at Dudinka takes place annually in May and lasts approximately one month. During that period, Norilsk Nickel continues to fulfill its delivery obligations regardless of the timing of the commencement and completion of this planned operation.

The Dudinka port is a part of the Polar Transportation Division of MMC Norilsk Nickel. It is both a river and a sea port. The Dudinka port carries out the timely and consistent dispatch of MMC Norilsk Nickel products and participates in the delivery of industrial and consumer goods to the Norilsk Industrial Area.

Every year, Norilsk stops loading nickel, copper and cobalt for export when the ice cover breaks and causes flooding at the mouth of the Yenisei River, where Dudinka is located. About 4.5 million tons of goods, mostly metals from Norilsk, pass through Dudinka every year.

The closure disrupts the supply of concentrate to Norilsk’s refineries on the Kola Peninsula.

Mining in the Norilsk area began in the 1920s and the region quickly became a critical supplier of non-ferrous metals within the Soviet Union. During the 1950s, the Northern Sea Route (NSR) Administration was tasked with building a year-round Arctic marine transport system on the western end of the NSR and into the Yenisei River.

The development of large, nuclear icebreakers came first with the Lenin in 1959 (the world’s first nuclear surface ship) followed by a small fleet of larger icebreakers of the Arktika class. These ice breakers were designed to create tracks in the ice for lower-powered cargo ships to sail in convoy astern of a lead icebreaker.

With unlimited endurance, the nuclear icebreakers could provide year-round services in the deeper waters along the major routes of the Northern Sea Route. Ice-strengthened cargo ships and shallow-draft icebreakers came next. By the 1978-79 winter season there was enough ice-breaking capacity to maintain year-round navigation by convoying ships from the Yenisei west across the Kara Sea and in to the Barents Sea to Murmansk. A continuous flow of non-ferrous metal concentrates could be maintained to smelters on the Kola Peninsula and to other industries in the Soviet Union.

Year-round shipping to Dudinka functioned throughout the 1990s and the early years of the new century despite the financial challenges facing the Russian Federation.

Last November, the Arctic-class diesel electric container vessel owned by Norilsk Nickel made its first commercial trip by the eastern part of the Northern Sea Route.

In September, the container carrier left Murmansk for its first voyage from Murmansk to Shanghai via Dudinka and Busang. This is the shortest route for delivering Norilsk’s products from its production sites to consumers in Southeast Asia.

It was the first time in the history of navigation along the Northern Sea Route, when a commercial vessel cruised the eastern part of the Northern Sea Route without any ice-breaker support.

Total length of the round trip Dudinka-Providence Bay-Busang-Shanghai-Nakhodka-Dudinka was 20,965 kilometers, total duration 58 days, total steaming time 41 days, average speed 21.3 km/h (11.5 knots).

MMC Norilsk Nickel is the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium, and is among the top four platinum producers in the world, as well as among the top 10 copper producers. In addition to this, MMC Norilsk Nickel produces a large number of other by-products, including gold, silver, tellurium, selenium, iridium and ruthenium. MMC Norilsk Nickel is also a large global enterprise with production facilities in Russia are at the Polar and Kola Peninsulas, Australia, Botswana, Finland, the United States and South Africa.

Norilsk Nickel’s shares are traded at MICEX. ADR’s on the company’s shares are traded on the other the counter market in the US and at the London and Berlin stock exchanges.

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