July 15, 2020 / 11:05 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Russia's Nornickel board to discuss Rusal demands this month

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MOSCOW, July 15 (Reuters) - The board of Russia’s Norilsk Nickel on Wednesday said it would discuss demands from its major stakeholder Rusal later this month for it to overhaul its environmental policies and change its management after a fuel spill in Siberia.

Russia’s environmental watchdog demanded Nornickel, the mining giant, pay damages of 148 billion roubles ($2.1 billion) after 21,000 tonnes of diesel leaked into rivers and subsoil on May 29 in the remote Arctic city of Norilsk.

Rusal, a major aluminium producer, has been involved in a number of disputes in recent years with Nornickel, of which it owns 27.8%, and demanded the changes earlier this week after a series of smaller incidents at Nornickel.

Nornickel is run by Vladimir Potanin, its biggest shareholder with a 34.5% stake.

The board will discuss “these matters” at its upcoming meeting, Nornickel board chairman Gareth Penny said in a statement. The meeting will take place by the end of this month, Nornickel told Reuters.

“We have experienced a challenging few weeks in the company since the end of May,” Penny said. “We are determined to address the spill effectively and [in a timely manner], as well as other environmental issues that have arisen.”

After the spill, Potanin proposed capping Nornickel’s final 2020 dividend at $1 billion. Rusal, whose aluminium market has been hit by the coronavirus crisis, has not rejected or accepted the proposal as of yet. ($1 = 70.6800 roubles) (Reporting by Polina Devitt and Anastasia Lyrchikova; writing by Alexander Marrow and Polina Devitt; editing by Louise Heavens)

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