Norilsk Nickel buys Soviet-era copper concentrate for $1.1 billion

One of Russia's largest mining companies has dropped a stash of roubles on copper concentrate that dates back to the Cold War.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel) – one of the world's largest producers of nickel and palladium – purchased 67.5 billion (US$1.1 billion) roubles worth of copper concentrate from Russian state holding company Rostec. The amount of concentrate was not disclosed but according to Reuters Norilsk's Polar division produced it during Soviet times. The product was stockpiled and held by the government before it was released to Rostec sometime this year:

The payment will be made in several tranches over several years, an official with Nornickel said, adding that the concentrate also contained precious and base metals.

Rostec Chief Executive Sergei Chemezov told reporters the concentrate was being kept at Nornickel's Polar division while the mining firm said it would use it at its copper plant there.

Nornickel Group is divided into the Polar Division of MMC Norilsk Nickel, located above the Polar Circle on the Taimyr Peninsula, and Kola Mining and Metallurgical Company. The group also owns Norilsk Nickel Harjavalta, which is the only nickel refining plant in Finland.

Earlier this year a river near the city of Norilsk in Siberia, the eponymous home of the world's top nickel and palladium producer, turned blood red possibly caused by a break in the mining company's slurry pipe carrying concentrate to the plant.

Norilsk is a top 10 mining company with its ADRs trading in New York affording the company a $25 billion market value. The company produces roughly a fifth of the world's nickel, mainly used in steelmaking, and half the world's palladium used in autocatalysts to reduce emissions. Its operations in Russia, Botswana and South Africa also produce significant quantities of copper and cobalt, platinum, gold and silver as byproducts.