#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. It was about what and where to build, the impact of new cities on the economy and the development of new technologies. The Nornickel company shared its experience in the creation and development of Norilsk, the base city of operations.
Norilsk was also created from scratch at one time: in the USSR, the task was to provide the industry with rare earth metals as soon as possible, so in 1935 the construction of the plant began from scratch, around which the city grew.
“First of all, new cities in Russia were built and, probably, will be built for some kind of breakthrough. Norilsk appeared when nickel was vital for the country, and for the sake of a super purpose a full-fledged city with schools, swimming pools and theaters was erected in the icy desert”, said Andrey Grachev, vice president of Norilsk Nickel for federal and regional programs.
The speaker expressed his opinion that the development of the city should be based on a key idea. At the same time, it is important not to confuse the cause-and-effect relationship.
“The goal is not to create a city at any cost, and then look for the projects to ensure its existence. The city should develop around the target project, which was originally laid in its foundation. And when designing new cities, first of all, one should focus not on the size of the population, trying to show a city with a population of one million, but on the efficiency of the use of labor. This is especially important in the light of the development of digital technologies – robotization and the possibility of remote work, which has shown its effectiveness during the pandemic”, Andrey Grachev emphasized.
The possibility of a new project, around which the city is being created, at the expense of the rotational workforce, is a very topical issue. For example, discussions on the feasibility of developing Norilsk deposits on a rotational basis have been going on since the company was founded. Today, as Andrey Grachev explained, Nornickel uses a mixed approach. The rotational method is used for the construction of new industrial sites. The existing ones, where more narrowly focused competencies are in demand, are mainly occupied by Norilsk residents.
By itself, the shift method in its pure form is fraught with numerous economic, legal and social costs, among which: the disintegration of families, single mothers, children without fathers. Norilsk as a city of permanent residence neutralizes these negative tendencies and thus performs additional social functions not only in its area, but also in the country as a whole.
“Today Norilsk can be called ‘old-new city’ without any exaggeration, because the renovation that is taking place there now is aimed at a complete renewal of the city”, Andrey Grachev emphasized.
Moreover, Norilsk is now one of the few Siberian cities where the population is not decreasing, but increasing.
It is very important, according to the speaker, to take into account their location when creating new cities – in no case should they appear to the detriment of existing ones. Neighboring cities should not lose either human or economic resources.
“It is important to take into account the possible prospects of the projects that will form their basis, because no modern structure will keep people in the event of a job loss due to the closure of production”, said Andrey Grachev.
As an example, he cited the Japanese island of Hashima, which was a coal mining center for more than 150 years, but is now abandoned. In modern Russia, many cities and towns of the Far North and the Far East are ghost-cities. New cities must not be allowed to add to the sad list for any reasons.
This process, in the opinion of the Nornickel representative, should be carried out in an integrated manner. In addition to the creation of basic infrastructure, it is necessary to pay attention to such issues as the environment, interaction with local communities, and individual projects to improve the standard of living in the city. We need comfortable urban conditions, modern housing, high-quality medicine, and high-level education. Only after solving these projects, according to the speaker, we can talk about the settling people to the new cities.
“Thus, a new city is three attractive things: tax incentives for business, high salaries for employees and absolutely comfortable conditions typical for other Russian cities”, summed up Andrey Grachev.
Text: Elena Popova, Photo: Nikolay Shchipko, Marina Peshkova