Saturday 27 November 2021

ING, ABP invest in Russian mining firm at centre of Arctic pollution scandal

Marine rescue service workers trying to contain the spill. Photo: Russian Marine Rescue Service via AP

Banking group ING and civil service pension scheme ABP have invested more than €880m in Norilsk Nickel, a mining group owned by Russia’s richest man and which is at the centre of a major pollution incident in the Arctic, according to campaign group Fair Finance International.

ABP has invested some $221m in Norilsk Nickel shares while ING has $639m in loans to the company and has invested $207m in bonds, the Dutch arm of the campaign group said.

The huge diesel spill in Siberia in May turned two rivers crimson and threatens some 350 square kilometres of wilderness. The slick was caused when an aging fuel tank sank into thawing permafrost, leaking 21,000 tonnes of fuel.

Environmentalists have described the disaster as on a par with the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident off the coast of Alaska, the Financial Times reported.

ING told news website Nu.nl in a reaction that it has raised the issue of the leak with Norilsk Nickel and is looking into the company’s sustainability strategy.

‘The company is taking the situation very seriously and is doing all it can to clean up the area and make sure something like this never happens again,’ ING told the website.

ABP said it wanted to use its influence as a long-term investor to encourage the company to restore the damage and to take preventative measures.

‘Our sustainability strategy means that if dialogue with a company does not lead to the desired results, we can always consider selling our investment,’ the company said.

Blacklist

Norilsk Nickel has been blacklisted by various investors for repeatedly causing serious environmental damage in the Arctic including the Norwegian state pension fund, Fair Finance International said.

The organisation is calling for an end to all investments in companies which exploit raw materials in the Arctic, especially mining and oil and gas firms.

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