President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Potanin, please report on your company’s performance last year.
Norilsk Nickel President and Chairman of the Management Board Vladimir Potanin: It was a complicated year, but we did well. We have launched a long-term development programme to 2023, which is designed to increase ore mining by 50 percent and enrichment by nearly 100 percent. It also provides for modernising production capacities to make Norilsk Nickel the world’s largest company with cutting-edge equipment in its sphere. We plan to become the most effective mining and metals company.
Moreover, modernisation will help us resolve long-term environmental problems. We plan to reduce emissions by the projected 75 percent by 2023.
Mr President, we will also maintain social stability while working towards these goals. To maintain employment stability and honour collective agreements, Norilsk Nickel will create an additional 3,000 jobs so that our modernisation plans do not result in social problems. This calls for investing some 1 trillion rubles, out of which 250 billion will be spent on environmental protection.
We hope to be able to implement these plans with support from the government, which is unavoidable in case of large and super-large projects.
When it comes to ecology, we are not sitting on our hands either. Last year, we shut down the nickel plant in Norilsk, which allowed us to reduce emissions within city limits by 35 percent. It was the first step towards our goal, which we hope to achieve by 2023, as I have said.
Vladimir Putin: What is the current employment situation in the company? Are you laying off or hiring personnel? How is this connected to technological modernisation and the new equipment you plan to install? How will the situation on the labour market change with the introduction of new technologies?
Vladimir Potanin: Mr President, it is a very important question, and we are giving much attention to it. Our workers have changed radically over the past 10 or 15 years. They have become more demanding: they need broadband internet access, certain municipal services, sports, entertainment and movies. We are working on this.
Besides, technological modernisation implies the retraining and advanced training of personnel. For example, we have redistributed some 1,600 workers from the nickel plant we shut down. Out of these, 1,000 attended advanced training courses and about half of them received new qualifications.
Vladimir Putin: What relations do you have with the regional government and the federal authorities in this connection? Do you have a joint action plan?
Vladimir Potanin: A joint plan regarding personnel?
Vladimir Putin: Yes.
Vladimir Potanin: To be frank, we have not yet developed an effective joint plan.
Vladimir Putin: Well, you should do this.
Vladimir Potanin: I fully agree, Mr President, but so far we have been recruiting personnel from across Russia. We employ people from all regions and offer them good living conditions in Norilsk, either at an employee dormitory or a flat, trying to keep the market flexible. In the past, people came to Norilsk for three to five years to make enough money to settle down in some other region, but it turned out that many of them have come to stay. We want to create conditions for people to work in Norilsk as long as they want without restricting their choices, so that they can find a new job or relocate to another region for family or some other reason.
We have a special relocation programme, and we invest considerable sums every year in relocating up to 500 people and helping them receive new flats.
Vladimir Putin: What is the average pay in the company?
Vladimir Potanin: The average pay in the company is over 90,000 rubles, one of the highest in the country.
Vladimir Putin: You should maintain direct contacts with the regional and federal governments on the issues of relocation and employment of the released personnel.
Vladimir Potanin: I fully agree with you, Mr President. We will develop such contacts.
Vladimir Putin: I will talk with the governor about this too.