Nornickel Discussed Construction of New Homes With Indigenous Residents of Arctic Settlement

The company was the first to launch a free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) procedure for the indigenous peoples of the North in the Russian Arctic and will invite them to choose a way to resettle the town of Tukhard. The FPIC procedure is a UN-developed standard, guaranteeing the right of indigenous peoples to determine their own political, social, economic and cultural priorities.

Although the FPIC procedure is not incorporated into the laws of the Russian Federation, Nornickel voluntarily recognises international standards and, in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, is committed to conduct the procedure.

The Tukhard settlement is 76 kilometres to the west from the Arctic port of Dudinka at the base of the Taimyr Peninsula. Tukhard was founded as a rotation camp in the 1970s for the construction workers of natural gas producer NorilskGazprom, a Nornickel subsidiary, next to a Nenets settlement, and thus ended up located in the sanitary protection zone. According to Russian laws, permanent residence in such zones is prohibited. At an early stage, the development of the settlement did not envisage modern, comfortable homes and infrastructure.

To conduct the FPIC procedure, the Crossregional Public Organisation for Protection of Indigenous Peoples' Rights KMNSOYUZ formed an advisory council. It included member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Alexey Tsykarev, World Bank's Corporate Adviser on Indigenous Issues in 1999-2012, author of the World Bank's current Policy on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Navin K. Rai, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Professor James Anaya and other experts.

In mid-October, experts on the FPIC procedure, representatives of the indigenous peoples of Taimyr, local authorities, Nornickel representatives and Tukhard residents gathered for a round of consultations in the town.

Nornickel has proposed several options for Tukhard's resettlement, including relocation to new homes in New Tukhard, a new town just 1.5 kilometres away from the old one, or to new homes in other Taimyr settlements and Dudinka. If the residents agree to move, Nornickel will suggest architectural solutions for the new homes for discussion, while residents will determine what infrastructure they need for comfortable living. The company plans to complete the construction of the infrastructure, homes or purchase of new apartments in 2026, once the residents grant their consent.

"Nornickel has always respected the cultural traditions of the indigenous peoples of Taimyr. The company lives in an atmosphere of friendship and mutual support with the communities. The Tukhard FPIC procedure will be carried out in accordance with the strictest international standards and involve independent experts. This joint work and partnership will help us to create a comfortable environment for people to live and develop," said Andrey Grachev, Nornickel Vice President for Federal and Regional Programs.

Alexey Tsykarev commented: "To make the first FPIC experience in the Russian Arctic a success, Nornickel's task is to ensure all the basic elements of FPIC: freedom of decision-making, advance notice, awareness. FPIC is not a one-time solution, but a long-term process that contributes to building trust between the parties."

Navin K. Rai commented: "It is very important when industrial companies understand FPIC not as a risk to the business, but as a contribution to its sustainability. FPIC is a difficult process; it is an experience that indigenous peoples and the company go through together to reach an agreement that both parties consider equally fair. That said, the FPIC process does not end with the signing of an agreement. On the contrary, the relationship only begins there to avoid potential pitfalls in the implementation of the agreements reached."

Source: MMC Norilsk Nickel