MOSCOW: Russian mining giant Norilsk Nickel on Friday said it will not appeal a record $2 billon fine after the company was held responsible for a giant fuel spill in Russia's Arctic. More than 20,000 tonnes of diesel leaked into lakes and rivers near the city of Norilsk in May last year when a fuel reservoir collapsed at a power plant owned by Norilsk Nickel.
The leak was one of the worst oil spills in Russia, which frequently experiences environmental disasters usually caused by ageing infrastructure and negligence. "Following a thorough review of the court judgement... the company has decided not to pursue an appeal," Gareth Penny, Chairman of Norilsk Nickel's board of directors, said Friday in a statement.
He added that the decision will allow the company to implement the "ambitious sustainable development strategy" presented last December. Earlier this month a court ordered Norilsk Nickel, one of the world's largest producers of palladium and nickel, to pay a fine of 146.2 billion rubles ($1.9 billion).
Before the ruling the group said it would cover the cleanup costs but contested the sum of the fine, estimating the damages to be significantly lower.
Norilsk Nickel CFO Sergei Malyshev said Friday that the fine will be paid by reducing profits and dividend payments.
Vladimir Potanin, the company's main shareholder and Russia's richest man, recently said that Norilsk Nickel had "learnt an important lesson" from the spill and will review its approach to environmental risk management.
The company also announced the closure of a copper and a nickel smelter on the Kola Peninsula in the northwest of the country, believed to be one of the most polluted places in the world because of sulphur dioxide emissions. In its annual financial results published earlier this week, the company set itself a target of reducing sulphur dioxide emissions on the peninsula by 85 percent by the end of 2021.