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Mining giant Nornickel will close its copper plant that seeks to cut sulphur dioxide emissions in the Russian Arctic and build a new one in China, CEO Vladimir Potanin said, after Western technology partners refused to supply parts.

Nornickel, the world’s largest palladium producer and a major producer of high-grade nickel, launched a multi-billion dollar project in October aimed at reducing sulphur dioxide emissions by 45% in Norilsk, Russia’s most polluted city, through a complex capture programme.

Nornickel, though not directly targeted with Western sanctions over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, has changed the timing, cost and configuration of the programme several times, highlighting particular issues over foreign vendors’ refusal to supply to Russia.

Potanin, in an interview with the Interfax news agency published on Monday, said Nornickel would create a joint venture in China to build the new plant, which should be constructed by mid-2027 and bring Nornickel closer to its consumers.

Potanin said a joint project with German chemicals group BASF in Finland had been put on hold.