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Indigenous groups in Northern Russia ask Elon Musk to boycott Russian mining company ‘Nornickel’

Representatives of indigenous peoples in Russia’s North, Siberia, and Far East have asked Elon Musk to boycott Nornickel. In an open letter, the group “Aborigen Forum” says Tesla should refuse to buy products manufactured by the Russian mining company until it meets the following four conditions:

  1. “A full and independent assessment of the environmental damage of mining for nickel and other metals in Russia’s Taymyr Peninsula and Murmansk Oblast,”
  2. Compensation to indigenous communities “for the damages done to their traditional way of life,”
  3. The “recultivation of contaminated lands” in the Taymyr Peninsula and Murmansk region, and
  4. Revised policies “for engaging with indigenous peoples,” requiring these groups’ “free and informed consent” before beginning new projects that could affect them.

In the letter, Aborigen Forum General Secretary Gennady Schukin says the indigenous community is reaching out to Musk because of his recent calls for increased nickel mining to meet Tesla’s production needs. Musk has said Tesla is prepared to offer “a giant contract for a long period of time” to companies that “mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way.” The Aborigen Forum urges Musk not to partner with Nornickel in this initiative until the company changes how it does business. In what is perhaps a nod to Musk’s other popular company, SpaceX, Schukin describes the lands of indigenous people “appropriated by [Nornickel] for industrial production” as “a lunar landscape.”

Nornickel is a global leader in nickel production, Schukin acknowledges, but it is “also a global leader in environmental pollution,” he writes, citing the Norilsk oil spill in May 2020 that released 21,000 tons of diesel oil in the Arctic region.

The Aborigen Forum says it hopes Tesla will announce a Nornickel boycott publicly.

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