NORTH FOR NORTHERNERS
In summer 2020, an ethnological expedition supported by Nornickel visited the Taimyr Peninsula. The expedition was part of a programme to support indigenous peoples of the North – a key component of the Company’s social and economic policy across its footprint. Following the expedition, Nornickel signed cooperation agreements with organisations representing the interests of indigenous peoples and planned a number of initiatives to create new jobs, subsidise helicopter transportation, support targeted training for local residents, and so on.
When planning investments in the development of its operating regions, Nornickel carefully studies local economies and ways of life. In Taimyr, the support for indigenous peoples of the North inhabiting the peninsula is now an important part of the Company’s social agenda.
Given the challenging local climate, these efforts are mostly focused on supporting essential services through subsidising air transportation, supplying building materials and diesel fuel, and constructing social infrastructure facilities. We place a particular emphasis on renovating existing infrastructure. In Dudinka alone, Nornickel financed the repair of an orphanage and a sports facility, construction of a new fitness centre and renovation of the Neptun swimming pool. The Russian North is unique for its rich natural resources, but also for the culture of local peoples. The Company organises events to support local customs and traditions and is committed to preserving northern languages. The indigenous ways of life among local reindeer herders and fishermen require special approaches, which are often incompatible with those of a market economy. Nornickel helps them get integrated into modern production chains and offer their products to a wider audience.
Nornickel organised the ethnological expedition to better understand the region’s current agenda, as well as the contemporary cultural diversity and customs of the indigenous peoples of Taimyr. Its participants were also tasked with assessing the impact of man-made factors on the everyday life of local communities and the social and economic development of the peninsula.
The Company’s specialists conducted over a hundred interviews and surveys with members of Taimyr major ethnic groups engaged in traditional crafts. A detailed ethnological map was drawn up based on the results of the research. To map the contaminated area and assess the impact of anthropogenic pollution, researchers collected and analysed soil and water samples. This is the first case in Russia when an ethnological study assessed the impact of anthropogenic pollution on traditional land use rather than planned economic activities.
Among other things, the study established that the accident at Norilsk CHPP-3 affected about 700 people using Lake Pyasino and the Pyasina River as their traditional fishing grounds. In this situation, Nornickel made a decision, unprecedented in Russia, to voluntarily compensate for the damage caused.
The list of victims has been agreed with local communities, and payments are already ongoing. A total of about RUB 174 million will be allocated for these purposes. In addition to direct payments, the Company will support land remediation, fish stocking of local water bodies as well as create new jobs and production facilities.
The local population appreciated this approach, and, according to social activists, it can serve as a benchmark for other subsoil users in the region.
Following the expedition, Nornickel also signed cooperation agreements with the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON), the Regional Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North of the Krasnoyarsk Region, and the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Taimyr of the Krasnoyarsk Region. Together, these organisations represent more than 90% of the indigenous peoples of the Russian North.
A comprehensive five-year plan for assisting the development of indigenous peoples was drawn up with Nornickel’s contribution. The plan provides for supporting traditional crafts, financing healthcare services and home construction projects, creating infrastructure and developing tourism and culture. Specific tasks were set together with the local communities as they will be responsible for determining what needs to be done first. Tourism, reindeer husbandry, fishing and hunting have been listed among the development priorities for the region. Specifically, Nornickel plans to build fish and venison processing facilities, purchase refrigerator units and provide targeted training in professions required by the Company.
Much will also be done to preserve the indigenous culture of Taimyr. Nornickel will take part in the construction of an ethnic theme park, which will feature workshops showcasing traditional fur, leather, horn and tusk products. The Company also supports the development of local languages, which has been a focal point in recent decades. Learning aids will be developed and published with support from the Company.