A ban on nickel imports to the EU would have disastrous consequences, says a Finnish minister

A ban on imports of Russian nickel and fertilizers would hit Western countries hard, as they depend on Russian raw materials.

On March 21, Finnish public broadcaster Yle reported on the ownership structures of Russian mining and metals group Nornickel and the huge profits of Nurminen Logistics, which handles nickel rail transportation.

The Russian nickel powder is transported to Nornickel’s plant in the Finnish town of Harjavalta for processing, while the copper powder extracted from it is exported back to Russia for further processing.

Yle asked the Finnish minister responsible for the government’s minerals policy and sanctions about the reasons for continuing the trade.

Finnish Economy Minister Ville Rydman, who is responsible for mineral policy, justified the nickel trade on the grounds that Finland and other Western countries depend on the nickel plant.

“A good sanction is one that hits the target of the sanction more than the person imposing it. It is for this reason that the import ban is not in place. Finland and Europe will be much more affected than Russia. An import ban at this time would have disastrous consequences for Western countries,” Rydman commented to Yle in Parliament.

The company’s nickel and fertilizer imports are not subject to EU or US sanctions.

According to the Minister of Economic Affairs, Nornickel Harjavalta is the largest nickel refining plant in the EU, and it produces a significant part of the nickel needed by the European steel and battery industry. The company’s exports are worth around one billion euros per year, and the factory’s production is mostly exported, including to the United States.

“A ban on the import of fertilizers would not only harm us, but also the entire world’s food supply,” Rydman argues.

Rydman admits that the West’s dependence on Russian nickel and fertilizers is problematic. He says that substitutes are being sought all the time, but these are such big issues that the process is not quick.

“There is no sense in showing Russia that we do not approve of what they are doing, and we would be showing it by shooting ourselves in the foot,” he added.

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