MMC Norilsk Nickel has allocated RUB 10.5 billion (~$150M) to combat coronavirus (COVID-19) and help maintaining social stability in the regions of its operations. The money will be used to purchase medical equipment, medicines and personal protective gear for local healthcare institutions, the Company’s operating sites and employees, as well as to provide additional support for the Company employees and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) located in Nornickel’s regions of operation.
In order to prepare for the potential spread of the COVID-19 pandemic to the cities of Nornickel’s operations, the Company has purchased medicines and medical equipment for treating the coronavirus, including diagnostics, emergency care, and treatment in the ICU as well as purchased equipment required for reprofiling of the existing healthcare facilities.
Nornickel is purchasing medical supplies, including ventilators and both express and laboratory testing equipment, to meet the needs of the local healthcare facilities. Two stationary laboratories and five mobile laboratories to test for the coronavirus infection are scheduled for a rollout in the Norilsk industrial region and on the Kola Peninsula.
Measures have also been taken to increase hospitals’ capacity. In Norilsk, the number of beds in the city’s hospital infectious disease ward has more than doubled from 45 to 100, whereas in the worst case eventuality this number can quickly be increased to 1,000.
On the Kola Peninsula, 120 beds have been set aside at the Company’s corporate clinic for patients who will require observation. In Monchegorsk, 40 additional adult and 20 children’s hospital beds have been set up for patients requiring treatment from the infection, with another 30 additional hospital beds and 20 additional beds for observation have been set aside in the Pechenga district. In addition, Nornickel funds have been used to set up a 54-patient infectious disease ward at Monchegorsk Hospital to provide treatment to coronavirus patients. In April 2020, the Company will spend about RUB 3 billion to purchase medical equipment, personal protective gear, and develop local healthcare infrastructure.
Social well-being of its employees is a top priority for Nornickel. Currently, all employees, with the exception of those whose absence at the workplace may affect business continuity, have been directed to work from home while retaining 100% of their salaries. Employees of continuously-operating Nornickel units are being paid extra. In addition, from March 30 to April 30, the Company pays full wages to those who do not have remote working capabilities, as well as to the employees with children who are not able to perform their job duties as they have to stay home with their children following the closure of preschools. Given that the coronavirus pandemic has led to the forced cancellations of trips booked by our employees planning to spend their vacation at corporate health resorts or elsewhere, Nornickel is fully compensating employees for the purchase of corporate health resort package tours and has committed to cover any losses incurred as penalties for cancelling booked air tickets. This also applies to tickets purchased for employees’ family members where a group travel was booked for such family members.
In order to provide Norilsk’s population with high-quality internet services to support remote work and training, Nornickel’s subsidiary Edinstvo, the operator of the local fibre-optic network, has expanded its high-speed internet capacity allotted to local mobile operators by 45% at no extra charge.
As directed by Norilsk’s municipal administration, the airline NordStar has temporarily stopped regular passenger flights to the regional capital of Krasnoyarsk affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Nevertheless, air travel to Krasnoyarsk has been maintained, with any individual flight being subject to approval by an interdepartmental commission established by order of the city mayor.
To support SMEs, Nornickel has granted rent holidays to more than 100 small businesses that are tenants of the Company’s properties in Norilsk. Kola Mining and Metallurgical Company has offered similar benefits to its SME partners. “Social entrepreneurs,” i.e. the winners of Nornickel’s flagship corporate philanthropy project World of New Opportunities, who previously received loans from Nornickel for the development of their social businesses, have also been granted rent holidays for six months.
Volunteer teams have been formed in all of the Company’s cities of operation. Hundreds of Nornickel corporate volunteers are participating in the charity movement “Volunteers Rush to the Rescue” to help deliver food, medicines, and other essential supplies to those in need, educate senior citizens on how to use the internet, and make face masks out of gauze for at-risk citizens and doctors.
Nornickel President Vladimir Potanin said: “Nornickel has approached this crisis with a sufficient margin of safety to maximize protection for our workers and all residents in the cities hosting the Company’s enterprises, to support SMEs, and to help the local administrations. I am confident that together with our employees, local people in the cities where we operate, and the nation as a whole, we will be able to step up to this challenge.”