The dirty secret behind your ‘green’ electric car

The automotive industry is driving growing demand for nickel, critical for batteries, despite the pollution that production can cause.

President Putin ordered a state of emergency after a large diesel spill caused widespread damage in the Ambarnaya River outside Norilsk in Siberia this summer
President Putin ordered a state of emergency after a large diesel spill caused widespread damage in the Ambarnaya River outside Norilsk in Siberia this summer

As Tesla shares continued their stellar rise last month, a group representing indigenous communities in Russia sent a letter to Elon Musk.

“We are respectfully requesting that you DO NOT BUY nickel, copper and other products from the Russian mining company Nornickel,” they told the billionaire boss of the electric carmaker.

Citing the huge diesel spill from a Nornickel plant that turned Siberian rivers crimson this summer, they alleged that the world’s leading high-grade nickel producer was “a global leader in environmental pollution” and urged Tesla to rule out buying from the miner until it cleaned up its act.

The letter came in response to a striking plea that Mr Musk had made to mining companies weeks earlier. “Wherever you are in the world, please mine more nickel,” he said. “Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way.”

While concerns over child labour and corruption in mining cobalt for electric vehicle batteries are well-documented, Mr Musk’s comments have focused attention on the less-scrutinised market for nickel. The metal is every bit as critical for batteries — and presents its own concerns for ethically minded electric vehicle buyers.

Nickel is used in most lithium-ion batteries; it helps to provide higher energy density and to improve storage capacity. Today, batteries account for only about 7 per cent, or 150,000 tonnes a year, of global nickel demand, according to Wood Mackenzie; most nickel is still used to make stainless steel. However, the energy and mining consultancy expects battery demand to increase to 650,000 tonnes by 2030, helping to drive total nickel demand to 3.2 million tonnes a year, from 2.3 million tonnes at present.

Andrew Mitchell, head of nickel research at Wood Mackenzie, argues that the market is in fact oversupplied now and he does not “see a particular squeeze on the availability of materials” to meet growing demand. However, “if you then start to want to look at the ESG [ethical, social and governance] issues around your nickel, then that might start to pose you problems”.

Nornickel could increase its production of battery-grade nickel in Russia substantially, but doing so would depend on it first securing long-term contracts with customers.

As for Nornickel’s own environmental record, Andrey Bougrov, head of environmental protection at the miner — which is facing a $2 billion fine over the diesel spill — said that the clean-up campaign was “in full swing”. He insisted that the company was “committed to environmentally sensitive production of metals”, was investing large sums in reducing hazardous emissions, but was “dealing with factories built in the Soviet times when architects largely ignored environmental aspects of the production”.

For environmental groups, it is paramount that such concerns are addressed. “The clean energy transition cannot be underpinned by dirty mining. It’s sort of its Achilles’ heel,” Payal Sampat, mining programme director at Earthworks, said.


Hear us Elon musk

Dear friends, a meeting of Tesla shareholders will be held soon. We ask you to sign the petition to boycott Norilsk Nickel pending the fulfillment of our demands.

In the end of May, one of the largest accidents occurred in the Arctic where recovery could take decades. It has been 3 months since the accident and Norilsk Nickel has not submitted any damage control plan or the amount of compensation yet.

Help us raise the issue of the possible termination of relations between the ultra-tech company Tesla and the main polluter of the Arctic, Norilsk Nickel.


The Saami Council supports appeal from indigenous leaders regarding NorNickel

The Saami Council supports the appeal from indigenous leaders and experts of the Russian Federation to Mr. Elon Musk and Tesla, to refrain from buying nickel from NorNickel until the company implement indigenous peoples’ rights and fulfill its environmental obligations.

A sustainable future requires responsible industry and business, and the development of so-called sustainable solutions cannot happen on the costs of indigenous peoples and the environment. Then it is no longer a sustainable solution. 

The Russian company NorNickel is a global leader in the production of the mineral nickel. Murmansk Oblast and the Taymyr Peninsula has been the homeland for indigenous peoples of the Arctic for generations, and are the principal sites for the company’s activities. The Sámi, Nentsy, Nganasan, Entsy, Dolgan, and Evenki communities have preserved the traditional life, culture, and economy of Northern peoples, including reindeer herding, hunting, fishing, and gathering. Healthy and productive ecosystems, both on land and water, are the basis of indigenous peoples’ culture and identity. Indigenous peoples’ survival and existence must be secured and strengthened through the sustainable management of natural resources. Companies must be held accountable for cleaning up after accidents and pollution, also after ended activity.

Free, prior and informed consent (FPIC ) is a principle enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP, which establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world, and it elaborates on existing human rights standards and fundamental freedoms as they apply to the specific situation of indigenous peoples. This principle must apply to all industrial activities taking place on indigenous land and FPIC must be included in the code of conduct of any company.  


Bloomberg. Russian Arctic Peoples Appeal to Elon Musk for Nornickel Boycott

A group of indigenous people in Russia are asking Tesla Inc’s Elon Musk to stop buying supplies from miner MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC until the company compensates them for environmental damage to their ancestral lands.

“The lands of indigenous people appropriated by the company for industrial production now resemble a lunar landscape,” members of the Aborigen Forum network wrote in an open letter to Musk this week. “Traditional use of these lands is no longer possible.”

The group is asking Nornickel to assess the damage from a massive fuel spill in the Arctic earlier this year, revise its policies toward indigenous peoples and to re-cultivate contaminated areas in the Taymyr Peninsula and Murmansk Oblast, where the company’s operations are based.

The appeal comes after Musk last month promised a “giant contract” to companies mining nickel in an environmentally sensitive way. Supplies of the metal, which is a key component for electric vehicle batteries, could run short as early as 2023, according to BloombergNEF.

The letter adds to pressure on the Russian mining giant, which has long been criticized for its environmental record. It is contesting a fine of as much as $2 billion for the May fuel spill that infuriated Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia’s northern indigenous populations are finding their traditional lifestyle under threat from climate change and development. Warmer temperatures are making access to remote areas reliant on frozen roads more unreliable, while pollution from projects to extract the area’s resources have impacted local fish and wildlife that locals rely upon for food.

A spokesperson for Nornickel declined to immediately comment on the letter.

Source –

In the Cheremza tent camp of indigenous activists in the Kemerovo region, police have started to detain protesters

This morning, August 13, 2020, an escalation of confrontation began in a protest camp near the Shor village Cheremza in the Kemerovo region. In this tent camp, indigenous and local activists have protested against a new coal mining project “Kuznetskiy Yuzhny” during the last two months. Police detained several protesters.

The initiator of the protest action became a Shor indigenous activist Alexey Chispiyakov who published an appeal to indigenous peoples of the world during the International Day of indigenous peoples on August 9.

In his appeal, he said: “We will oppose this new mining project, but here are already a few of us – Shor indigenous people. We believe that it is better to die defending our land than to die cowardly betraying it. Not an inch of our land will we give to the new coal mining project “Kuznetskiy Yuzhny.” Taiga is our home, and the right to protect our home, our health, and our children’s health and life is the right given to us by our ancestors and spirits. And we are exercising this right.”

This morning, the mining company started to build a fence to enclose the industrial site, and protesters tried to stand peacefully there to stop the work of the builders. When the police began to detain people, protesters started to chant political slogans in which they demanded the resignation of the Kemerovo region’s governor.

‘The Fish Rots From the Head’: How a Salmon Crisis Stoked Russian Protests

OZERPAKH, Russia — A row of stakes hundreds of feet long pokes out of the endless estuary of the Amur River on Russia’s Pacific coast, resembling the naked spine of a giant fish.

It is a piece of commercial fishing infrastructure reminding the people who still live here that nature’s wealth — in this case, millions of chum and pink salmon — belongs to the well-connected few.

“It’s as though they must exterminate these riches, mercilessly,” says Galina Sladkovskaya, 65, waiting in vain for a fish to bite at a levee about 20 miles upstream. “They only need money and nothing else. They don’t have a human soul.”

Along the Amur, one of Asia’s great waterways, Russians feel cheated, lied to and ignored. The wild salmon fishery that they once took for granted is gone, they say, because Moscow granted large concessions to enterprises that strung enormous nets across the river’s mouth.

People’s anger over their depleted fish stock is so widespread that it has been a driving force behind the anti-Kremlin protests that have been shaking the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk, on the Amur, since early July.

“This was a gesture of people desperate to be heard,” Daniil Yermilov, a Khabarovsk political consultant, said of the protests. “People wanted to live how they used to live, so that they can catch fish again.”

The story of the Amur’s vanishing salmon also sheds light more broadly on why President Vladimir V. Putin’s popular support has fallen close to the lowest point of his 20-year rule.

Russians’ turn away from Mr. Putin revolves less around abstract concepts of freedom and geopolitics than the concrete instances of poverty and injustice they see in their daily lives — and the feeling that the country’s elite neither knows nor cares about their struggles.

On a dirt road recently near the Amur’s mouth, a green truck splashed by before Leonid, a fisherman, whistled the all-clear. Two boys, his sons, hustled out of their hiding spot in the reeds, dragging a sack of glistening salmon.

By The New York Times

“We’re being forced to become poachers,” he said, cursing and refusing to give his last name because he was in the process of breaking the law. “What is Putin thinking?”

Residents say there is virtually no way for them to legally catch enough to eat of what little fish remains, amid ever-tightening regulations on recreational and Indigenous fishing.

The boards tied to the roof of Leonid’s aging blue hatchback were meant to provide an alibi — he was just out collecting wood scraps. His rear windshield carried the slogan of the Khabarovsk region’s summertime political awakening: “I Am/We Are Sergei Furgal.”

Sergei I. Furgal, a former scrap-metal trader, ran for governor of the sprawling Khabarovsk region in 2018 and beat the incumbent, a Kremlin ally, in a rare upset. He gained popularity with populist moves unusual in Russia’s top-down system of governance: He cut his salary, improved school lunches and held frequent listening tours, skipping the tie and posting copiously to Instagram.

By then, the Amur’s fish crisis was already brewing. Federal authorities had granted expansive salmon fishing rights to companies that installed huge, stationary nets in the estuary and at the river’s mouth.

In the fall, the legions of migrating salmon used to make it hundreds of miles upriver to Khabarovsk, filling apartment refrigerators with smoked fish and cheap salmon roe — a New Year’s Eve staple that Russians call red caviar — sold by the kilogram.

The catch topped out at 64,000 metric tons in 2016 but then dropped precipitously, to 21,500 metric tons in 2018, the World Wildlife Federation says. And few salmon made it to Khabarovsk or the spawning grounds on the Amur’s tributaries.

“People here right now can’t catch enough to put on the table, while commercial fishermen reap huge profits,” Mr. Furgal said soon after taking office. “We’re going to try to change this state of affairs.”

He called for new limits on commercial fishing, some of which were implemented, but the salmon have remained scarce. Then, early last month, a SWAT team from Moscow pulled Mr. Furgal out of his black S.U.V. and spirited him onto the eight-hour flight back to the capital.

He was accused of masterminding murders some 15 years ago, but Khabarovsk residents saw a naked Kremlin attempt to remove a maverick governor more loyal to his constituents than to Mr. Putin. Two days later they spilled into the streets in the tens of thousands in the biggest protests Russia’s regions had seen since the fall of the Soviet Union.

The protests, now in their second month, are driven by regional pride, economic frustration and fatigue with Mr. Putin. But their animating emotion, dozens of interviews across the region showed, was a sense of injustice, as encapsulated by the fish crisis: Salmon had been part of life here for generations, and now Moscow had taken it away and offered nothing in return.

“Putin only thinks about war and about his pockets,” said Andrei Peters, 53, a small-business man in the impoverished village of Takhta on the lower Amur. “No one thinks about the people.”

In the struggling fishing village of a few hundred people with no regular internet or road connection to the outside world, someone had printed out black-and-white Furgal posters on regular sheets of paper and affixed them to the wooden electricity poles. With their now ex-governor behind bars, residents said they feared they had lost the one person in power who heard their concerns.

Indeed, the few officials in the region who agreed to interview requests in the wake of Mr. Furgal’s arrest either dismissed their constituents’ fish-related anger or redirected the blame away from the Kremlin. In the Indigenous community of Sikachi-Alyan, an hour’s drive outside Khabarovsk, the village head, Nina Druzhinina, explained that “America is at fault for all of our sins.”

“The C.I.A. has inserted its services everywhere, and its spy network is probably highly developed,” Ms. Druzhinina said. Commercial fishermen were able to exploit the Amur River, she said, because of post-Soviet Russia’s American-inspired legal code.

In the regional parliament, the speaker, Irina Zikunova, said that many Khabarovsk residents “are guided by impulse, are guided by emotions, are guided by feelings” rather than by facts. She rejected the notion — heard virtually universally in interviews with residents along the Amur — that officials in Moscow had shaped fishing regulations to the benefit of well-connected businesspeople.

“In reality, this is a made-up problem,” she said.

One of the Amur’s main fishing magnates, Aleksandr Pozdnyakov, is chauffeured around Khabarovsk in a black Mercedes Maybach. He acknowledged in an interview in his tastefully dark-toned office that the Amur fishery is in crisis. But he said the problem was overfishing by local residents who preferred to “pay nothing and do nothing while catching as much as they want.”

Mr. Furgal, the Khabarovsk governor arrested last month, made things worse, he said, speaking “as though he’s doing everything for the people” and telling the public they had a right to the salmon in the Amur.

“I’ll tell you one thing,” Mr. Pozdnyakov said of the tens of thousands protesting in support of Mr. Furgal, “I am confident that practically 99 percent of those going out are slackers who don’t want to do anything.”

Experts say there is truth to the notion that poaching by local residents is part of the problem. Olga Cheblukova, who coordinates the World Wildlife Fund’s Amur River studies, said the environmental group’s researchers have seen hundreds of dead salmon scattered near their spawning grounds, their bellies sliced open and their roe removed.

The fundamental issue, she said, is poor federal oversight that failed to detect a natural decline in the wild salmon population after the large catch in 2016. In the years that followed, regulators granted fishing quotas exceeding the actual migrating population, allowing runs of salmon to be virtually exterminated before they managed to reproduce.

In the fall of 2018, W.W.F. researchers counted an average of about 0.1 chum salmon per 1,000 square feet of river at their spawning grounds, compared to a norm of about 50.

To Khabarovsk residents, that failure of governance means more expensive fish — a parable for all of Russia, where official mismanagement and corruption often translates to bad roads, crumbling hospitals and polluted wilderness.

The protests in Khabarovsk show how easily public anger over those failures can now boil over — as it did for Evgeny Kamyshev, 32, a protester who blamed the Kremlin for the scarcity of salmon.

“The fish rots from the head,” he said.

Oleg Matsnev contributed research from Moscow.

Denis Sangi. Degradation of federal law “On guarantees of the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Russian Federation”

At the outset, it should be noted that there are two key rights for indigenous peoples around the world. This is the right to ownership of ancestral lands and territories, and the right to self-government and independent decision-making about their own development. The significance of these rights is reflected in international normative documents.

On April 16, 1999, the Russian parliament adopted the federal law “On guarantees of the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Russian Federation”. Its name fully reflects the importance of this law. The Russian Federation recognizes that indigenous peoples have special rights and guarantees their observance.

I found the original version of this document, and tracked all the changes made since its adoption. In this article, I will highlight the most significant of these changes with my own comments.

I. The first edition of the law contained Article 4 as follows:

Article 4. Ensuring the rights of small peoples to socio-economic and cultural development

The state authorities of the Russian Federation, state authorities of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation and local self-government bodies, in accordance with federal legislation and the legislation of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, ensure the rights of indigenous peoples to a distinctive socio-economic and cultural development, protection of their original habitat, traditional way of life and management.

Organizations of all forms of ownership, public associations and individuals have the right to assist small peoples in the exercise of their rights to original socio-economic and cultural development in the manner determined by federal legislation and the legislation of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation.

This article is aimed at realizing one of the key rights of indigenous peoples – the right to self-government and independent decision-making about their own development. State authorities at all levels are charged with the responsibility to ensure this right of indigenous peoples. And organizations of all forms of ownership are endowed with the right to assist indigenous peoples in the exercise of their right to self-government and independent decision-making about their own development.

This article was declared invalid (completely canceled) in 2004.

II. Article 5. Powers of federal bodies of state power.

The bodies of state power of the Russian Federation in order to protect the primordial habitat, traditional way of life, economic activity and crafts of indigenous peoples have the right:

Clause 10)
To regulate, together with the state authorities of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, the legal regime of possession, use and disposal of lands of traditional nature management and lands of historical and cultural purposes in places of residence of small peoples.

This rule allowed federal government bodies, together with regional government bodies, to establish the procedure for the ownership, use and disposal of lands significant for indigenous peoples in favor of indigenous peoples.

This clause was completely canceled in 2004.

Clause 12)
Establish the boundaries of lands of traditional nature use of small peoples and the procedure for granting these peoples for these purposes lands in federal ownership.

This rule, among other things, allowed the indigenous peoples to be granted lands in federal ownership. For the conduct of traditional nature management.

Canceled in 2007.

III. Article 6 conferred on regional public authorities the following, inter alia, rights:

Clause 1)
In accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation, to adopt laws and other normative legal acts of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation on the protection of the original habitat, traditional way of life, management and crafts of indigenous peoples, as well as on the procedure for organizing and operating communities of indigenous peoples, taking into account historical, national and other traditions these peoples.

Canceled in 2004.

Clause 6)
Establish general principles for the organization and activities of territorial public self-government of small peoples in places of their traditional residence and economic activity.

Canceled in 2004.

Clause 7)
Establish the procedure for the allotment, use and protection of lands of traditional use of natural resources by small peoples in the ownership of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation.

Here, a comment is needed on what is the allotment of a land plot. This is a complex of land management actions to establish a land plot in nature, grant it ownership, possession, use, and lease. This is a kind of alienation of land. That is, regional government bodies can transfer their land plots to third parties. Including in favor of indigenous peoples.

Canceled in 2007.

Clause 9)
Establish administrative responsibility for violation of the legislation of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation on the protection of the original habitat, traditional way of life, management and crafts of indigenous peoples.

Canceled in 2004.

Clause 11)
Together with local self-government bodies, ensure compliance with federal legislation and the legislation of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation with regulatory legal acts of local self-government bodies on the protection of the original habitat, traditional way of life, economic activity and crafts of small peoples.

Canceled in 2004.

Clause 12)
Issue licenses and establish quotas for the traditional crafts of indigenous peoples and monitor compliance with the terms of these licenses and quotas.

This is a very important point that needs clarification. For indigenous peoples, hunting and fishing are traditional trades. They hunt and fish not for entertainment or commercial enterprise, but for survival. And it is quite true that for such purposes it is necessary to separately allocate quotas and permits for the production of animals and catching fish. These quotas must be issued separately from quotas for all other hunters and fishermen.

However, the question of entrepreneurial activity of indigenous peoples also remains open.

Canceled in 2004.

In the current version of the federal law “On guarantees of the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Russian Federation,” regional government bodies are deprived of all of the above rights. Which were aimed at protecting the interests of indigenous peoples.

IV. Article 7 endowed local governments with the following, inter alia, rights:

Clause 1)
Allocate funds from local budgets to provide financial assistance for the socio-economic and cultural development of small peoples in order to protect their ancestral habitat, traditional way of life, economic activity and crafts.

Canceled in 2004.

Clause 3)
Exercise control over the allotment, use and protection by persons belonging to small peoples of lands necessary for conducting a traditional way of life and engaging in traditional crafts of small peoples.

In 2007, the word “allotment” was changed to the word “grant”. And these are completely different legal meanings.

Clause 5)
Adopt normative legal acts on the socio-economic and cultural development of small peoples, as well as on the protection of their ancestral habitat, traditional way of life, business and crafts.

Canceled in 2004.

In the current version of the federal law “On guarantees of the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Russian Federation”, local governments are deprived of all of the above rights. Which were aimed at protecting the interests of indigenous peoples.

V. Article 8 lists the following, among others, the rights of indigenous peoples:

Clause 1 of Part 1)
Own and use, free of charge, in places of traditional residence and economic activity of small peoples, lands of various categories necessary for the implementation of their traditional management and engaging in traditional crafts, and widespread minerals in the manner prescribed by federal legislation and the legislation of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation.

A comment is needed here. This regulation deals with the ownership of indigenous peoples to ancestral lands and territories. Truncated truth. Indeed, in full measure, the right of ownership includes the right of ownership, the right to use, and the right to dispose. Here, indigenous peoples were endowed with the right to own and use land. Without the right to dispose. That is, without the right to sell, donate, rent, and so on.

In 2007, the words “own and” were removed. We were deprived of the right to own land.

Clause 8 of part 2)
Receive free social services in the manner prescribed by the legislation of the Russian Federation.

In 2004, the word “free” was dropped.

VI. The first edition of the law contained Article 13 as follows:

Article 13. Representation of small peoples in the legislative (representative) bodies of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation and representative bodies of local self-government.

For the purpose of the most consistent solution of issues of socio-economic and cultural development of small peoples, protection of their original habitat, traditional way of life, business and crafts, the laws of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation may establish quotas for the representation of small peoples in the legislative (representative) bodies of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation and representative bodies of local government.

This article was completely canceled in 2004. Regional governments are no longer allowed to allocate quotas for indigenous peoples to be represented in the regional parliament.

Over the past 20 years, the legal status of indigenous peoples in Russia has deteriorated dramatically. I have reviewed only one key law. To track all negative changes, an analysis of a large number of different regulatory documents is required. Many of which are not directly related to indigenous peoples, but have a direct impact on us.

Dear Mr. Elon Musk: A Letter From Russian Indigenous Peoples About Nickel Mining Pollution

A network of independent experts, activists, leaders, and organizations of Russian indigenous peoples has called on Tesla CEO Elon Musk to boycott a Russian mining company until it meets specific ecologically-sound conditions. The letter to Musk acknowledges that Nornickel is an international leader in nickel production but is “also a global leader in environmental pollution.”

Nornickel’s smelting processes have resulted in environmental degradation on the Taimyr Peninsula, including a 20,000 ton diesel fuel spill into a river in the fragile Arctic ecosystem. “The lands of indigenous people appropriated by the company for industrial production now resemble a lunar landscape, and traditional use of these lands is no longer possible,” the letter to Musk reads.

Aborigen Forum is an informal association of 39 independent experts, activists, leaders, and organizations of Russian indigenous peoples from 14 regions of the North, Siberia, and the Far East of the Russian Federation. The Arctic region environment is particularly vulnerable to pollution, and it can take decades to recover from a single environmental incident.

The main areas of activity of the Aborigen Forum are the protection and implementation of the rights of Russian indigenous peoples, analysis of legislation, monitoring places of residence and economic activity, development of partnerships with other organizations, international cooperation, and work with authorities at all levels.

An Open Letter & Plea for Mining Environmental Stewardship

With mines and metallurgical factories on the Taimyr Peninsula and in the Murmansk region, Nornickel is the world’s largest nickel producer. Yet the Aborigen Forum describes Nornickel’s environmental pollution there as a “routine occurrence,” pointing to a river oil spill on the Taimyr Peninsula as an ongoing environmental disaster, “but not an isolated incident.”

Musk made a plea in late July for miners to produce more nickel, which is a key ingredient in the batteries that power the company’s electric cars. He warned that the current cost of batteries remains a big hurdle to the company’s growth.

Nickel increases battery density so that electric cars have greater range on a single charge.

“Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way,” Musk said during a Q2 2020 post-earnings call.

In a letter to Musk, the Aborigen Forum alludes to Musk’s promise to source in “an environmentally sensitive way” and urges Tesla not to buy nickel, copper, and other products from Nornickel until it conducts a full and independent assessment of the vast environmental damage caused by its production.

The Aborigen Forum asks that the following conditions be met if Tesla business with Nornickel is implemented. Nornickel would need to:

  • Conduct a full and independent assessment of the environmental damage of mining for nickel and other metals in Russia’s Taymyr Peninsula and Murmansk Oblast. Such an assessment would determine the harm from the ongoing Norilsk diesel oil spill and consider the damage done by industrial production to traditional economic activities of indigenous peoples, an on-going environmental disaster, “but not an isolated incident.”
  • Compensate indigenous communities for the damages done to their traditional way of life.
  • Prepare and implement a plan for re-cultivating contaminated lands in the Taymyr Peninsula and Murmansk Oblast.
  • Revise its policies for engaging with indigenous peoples. The new guidelines would be informed by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the need to obtain free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting indigenous lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization, or exploitation of mineral, water, or other resources.

The letter states:

“We are aware of Tesla Inc.’s policies on human rights. The Company’s Code of Conduct for suppliers prescribes minimizing negative impact on the environment in all activities in order for the global economy to transition to sustainable energy. We call on Tesla, Inc. to refrain from cooperation with Nornickel and announce this decision publicly, until the abovementioned policies are implemented by the Russian nickel supplier.”

Elon Musk’s Call for Increased Nickel Mining

Electric vehicles, which consume a much smaller amount of nickel than traditional industries such as stainless steel makers, are forecast to be the quickest growth market for nickel miners.

“The real limitation on Tesla growth is cell production at affordable price. That’s the real limit,” Musk reiterated. He expanded that the company would expand its business with Panasonic (6752.T) and CATL (300750.SZ) and “possibly with others.”

Tesla’s needs for more nickel is part of a company plan to increase production of its catalog of all-electric vehicles as well as its solar projects. Tesla currently sources nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) batteries from South Korea’s LG Chem Ltd (051910.KS) and nickel-cobalt-aluminium (NCA) batteries from Japan’s Panasonic Corp (6752.T). Reuters reports that these companies indirectly buy nickel from mining companies in a long auto supply chain, yet Tesla doesn’t disclose which nickel miners are in that supply chain.

The International Nickel Study Group (INSG) estimates the global refined market was in a supply surplus of 57,300 tons after the first 5 months of the year, representing a sharp turnaround from a deficit of 31,500 tons at the same point of 2019. London Metal Exchange (LME) nickel stocks are plentiful at 234,636 tons, and LME time spreads continue to trade without delay, contrasting with a tightening trend in other metals such as copper.

Nornickel prides itself on having access to a “unique mineral resource base” with “active development of first-class assets in Russia,”  “constant expansion of the resource base,” and “geological exploration (that) ensures the maintenance of the volume and optimal structure of mineral reserves.” And they’re ravaging native natural resources.

Nornickel ranks among the top 10 copper producers. It also produces cobalt. All 3 minerals are important components in the current booming battery production for electric vehicles.

Local Knowledge: In Mining & Life | Russian Indigenous Peoples

In an interview with The Barents Observer, Dmitry Berezhkov, an expert working with the Aborigen-Forum, indicates many obstacles exist for indigenous peoples in the region to have their voices heard. “It is not only difficult, it became impossible during the recent years,” he says. “Russia is building a new Arctic industrial reality rapidly, and indigenous people are not considered in these activities at all.”

“In reality, they don’t pay any attention to indigenous peoples’ rights on the ground,” he continues. “We consider Musk’s request to nickel producers as an occasion to pay attention to the environmental degradation of indigenous peoples’ traditional lands.”

Indigenous peoples who live in the Murmansk region are the Sámi, and the Nentsy, Nganasan, Entsy, Dolgan, and Evenki live on the Taimyr Peninsula in Siberia. These communities have preserved the traditional life, culture, and economy of northern peoples, including reindeer herding, hunting, and fishing. Indigenous people view a clean environment as a key factor for survival in harsh northern conditions.

Source –

Joint statement with Arctic Consult on the decision of the Russian Government to shut down the Centre for the Support of Indigenous Peoples

6 November 2019 Moscow regional court sustained a claim of the Russian Ministry of Justice and made a decision on forced liquidation of the Russian non-governmental organization the Centre for the Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North, which was led by prominent human rights defender and civic leader, a member of the UN Expert Mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples Rodion Sulyandziga.

That decision of the Russian government fits well with the general repression policy of the Russian authorities, security and law enforcement agencies (siloviki) towards the civil society in Russia. As we know just several days before the decision about closure of the Center for the Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North Russian authorities made a similar decision on forced liquidation of one of the oldest human rights organization in Russia «For the human rights» which was led by well known Russian scientist and human rights defender Lev Ponomarev. And before that because of the pressure from the Russian authorities, a lot of other independent human rights or environmental non-governmental organizations were liquidated in Russia, announced «foreign agents» or closed because their leaders had their own public opinion which is not complying with the official agenda of the Russian authorities. A lot of indigenous non-governmental organizations had suffered also because of such policy of the Russian government including Nenets information center «Yasavey-Manzara», Kamchatka information center «Lach»; Russian foundation for the development of indigenous peoples «Batani», Evenk community «Dylacha»; Shor local organization «Kasaz and Shor people revival» and many others. Many indigenous leaders and activists in Russia who fought for the rights of their communities on lands, resources, and self-determination were subjected to repression and harassment by Russian officials and enforcement bodies’ representatives including public bullying, smear companies in media, criminal prosecution, illegal interrogations, and searches, jailing etc. These facts are well known and we don’t want to specify them all in this short statement. We want to draw attention to another prominent fact.

As we all remember 1 November 2012 Russian Ministry of justice on the ground of «technical mistakes» of the organizational statute and its «non-correspondence with the federal legislation» had stopped the functioning of the Russian Association of the indigenous peoples of the North (RAIPON). Those days Russian bureaucrats founded «mistakes» in a statute of the organization, which had been successfully working for 22 years since 1990. And we remember well as Rodion Sulyandziga who was one of the leaders of RAIPON those days organized an international campaign with the aim to protect RAIPON and not allow the Russian government to close this organization. Rodion Sulyandziga was a person who organized the RAIPON’s extraordinary congress to changed the statute of RAIPON according to the requirements of the Russian authorities, arranged all litigation proceedings with the Ministry of justice and paid all efforts to not allow to close nationwide organization of indigenous peoples of the Russian North, Siberia and the Far East.

And how do representatives of RAIPON behave today when Rodion himself needed help and Russian bureaucratic machine is liquidating his own organization?:

  • Grigory Ledkov (President of RAIPON): «We are living in a rule-of-law state and we have to follow the orders of the law, including the orders of the Ministry of justice and their requirements to the organizations’ statutes. The work with federal and regional laws, organizing a give and take dialog with authorities and work with indigenous communities on the ground is all the way more difficult thing than hyping in the Internet and social networks.»
  • Alexander Novyukhov (RAIPON vice-president in Ural federal district): «There is no political motivation in the liquidation of this organization. We are regularly meeting with activities of such «human rights organizations» and other fake experts. Their main activity aims to destroy the work of generally accepted and officially legitimized indigenous leaders and to undermine the authoritative information.»
  • Vladimir Klimov (vice-president of RAIPON on interregional cooperation): «Somebody says that one of the leading indigenous rights organizations was closed — that’s an overstatement. We don’t need to search for some enemies acting through government or the Ministry of Justice — I think this is just bad management (from Rodion side). He has to keep a strict watch over his own documents.»

Dozens of media in Russia and around the world including leading information agencies have written about the liquidation of the Center for the Support of Indigenous Peoples of the Russian North. And only RAIPON’s representatives and several other pseudo-indigenous rights organizations from Russia commented this act of injustice as a «bad management» and a wave of a rush of indignation in civic society because of this action of the Russian government as a «hyping in social networks».

Considering this we declare that at present, RAIPON, which is completely controlled by the Russian authorities, has finally discredited itself and has no right to represent indigenous peoples of Russia and to make statements on their behalf. We strongly urge representatives of all organizations that have any relations with RAIPON at any level, including representatives of States, international organizations and indigenous organizations working at the UN and at the Arctic Council, to take this consideration into account in their future activity.

Pavel Sulyandziga (Batani foundation), Dmitry Berezhkov (Arctic Consult)

The Centre for the Support of Indigenous Peoples published a book about the Bikin Udege

The Centre for the Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North (CSIPN) published a book about the Udege people, which tells about the history of the Udege, about the Ussuri taiga in the Bikin River valley, which scientists call “the Russian Amazon”, the Bikin Udege, the creation of Krasny Yar, and the  Bikin people. For the first time, the book of this kind was compiled by the residents of the Udege village of Krasny Yar. The book gives memories and legends of the Udege people about the origin of their families, describes the history of the Krasny Yar and the current situation of the Bikin Udege. As an Annex to the book, the Center published “Catalogue of products and services of Bikin Udege”.

The Center also released the film “Bagdifi” about Bikin and the Udege. There are a lot of interesting things to learn by reading these books and watching the movie.

It is significant that the Center published the book in the same year when the current territory of the Bikin Udege is included in the UNESCO List of World Natural Heritage sites, for which the Udege fought for almost 20 years to create.