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MOSCOW: Russian mining giant Norilsk Nickel on Friday was fined nearly $2 billion after one of its subsidiaries became the source of a giant fuel spill in Russia's Artic last year. Russia frequently experiences environmental disasters that are often caused by ageing infrastructure but the oil spill near the city of Norilsk in May last year was one of the worst in recent history.

A court in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk ordered the company - one of the world's largest producers of palladium and nickel - to pay a fine of 146.2 billion rubles ($1.9 billion), Norilsk Nickel said in a statement.

Greenpeace said the fine was "the largest compensation for environmental damage" in Russia's history. More than 20,000 tonnes of diesel leaked into lakes and rivers in the Russian Arctic in May last year when a fuel reservoir collapsed at a power plant owned by Norilsk Nickel.