Nornickel Harjavalta, which processes Russian raw materials, is owned by the giant metals and mining group whose largest owner is Vladimir Potanin. The Russian war has not affected the Finnish plant’s productivity, and it maintains the plans to expand its capacity, the Finnish economic publication Talouselämä reported on July 6, 2022.
Finland seeks to get rid of Russian oil, but nickel imports have not been affected by the war. Because of this, nickel has overtaken oil as the largest Russian import product by value, according to the publication.
In April, the value of nickel and nickel products imported from Russia was 72% higher than in April 2021. Nickel imports increased by volume as well.
The main consumer of raw materials in Finland is the Nornickel Harjavalta nickel refinery, part of the Russian Norilsk Nickel Group. Norilsk Nickel’s revenue in Finland last year was about €1.5 billion.
Production volumes this year remained at last year’s level, says Joni Hautojärvi, CEO of Nornickel Harjavalta, in a comment to Talouselämä. “There was a brief interruption in raw material shipments in spring, but now they are operating normally.”
Raw materials are shipped from Russia to Finland by rail. Nickel imports are likely to increase in the future, Talouselämä writes, as the Harjavalta factory plans to expand production according to a plan it announced last year.
“As part of the expansion investment, we are increasing production of nickel chemicals used in electric car batteries,” Hautojärvi said.
The European industry needs these chemicals because the production capacity of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles will increase to about 400 to 500 gigawatt hours by 2030, according to the European Battery Alliance.
This will require about 200,000–300,000 more tons of nickel production in the short term.
This is probably one reason why nickel cargoes are transported normally, and nickel is currently excluded from European Union sanctions.
The Harjavalta factory is important for the parent group.
Norilsk Nickel produces about five percent of the world’s pure nickel production at Harjavalta, and about a quarter of its production goes to the electric car industry.
“The investment in the plant’s expansion consists of two phases. The first phase will increase nickel production from the current 65,000 tons to 75,000 tons. This should be realized as early as next year,” said Hautojärvi. “The first phase will remove bottlenecks in production, and the second phase will expand current operations.”