The very first copper on the territory of the future Norilsk was smelted by the Sotnikov brothers in the 19th century. With the beginning of the Norilsk combine construction, the metal production began in 1942 at a small metallurgical plant. The Copper plant construction started in 1948: the inmates of the 6th and 17th camp points began building a smelting shop.
Initially, a government order of 1945 envisaged the construction of not a copper plant, but a copper smelter in Norilsk. The difference is in the final product. The copper smelter produces only blister copper, while the copper plant assumes a full cycle of fire and electrolytic copper refining. The plant’s managers – the director Alexander Panyukov and chief engineer Vladimir Zverev – managed to defend their own point of view. The Norilsk plant should produce full-fledged products.
According to eyewitnesses, the copper plant was built at a frantic pace. Chimneys were constructed within a month each. In September 1948, there were only two warehouses and an office with an unfinished machine shop on the construction site. And a little over a year later, on December 21, 1949, the plant produced the first copper.
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Text: Svetlana Samokhina, Photo: Nornickel Polar Branch archive