Russia's Nornickel says 2021 nickel sales were unaffected by export tax

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MOSCOW, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Russia's Nornickel (GMKN.MM), the world's largest producer of refined nickel, said on Monday that the state export tax, which Moscow had imposed between August and December of 2021, did not affect the amount of its nickel exports.

Russian exporters of nickel, steel, aluminium and copper paid extra export taxes in the last five months of 2021. The government imposed them to protect its defence and construction industries from further inflation in raw materials costs.

"The company did not change the shipment volumes of nickel products to its customers both in Russia and abroad," Nornickel told Reuters.

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Nornickel was responding to a request for comment after some traders told Reuters the Russian official export data indicated that the miner had stopped exporting nickel after Russia imposed the tax in August, exacerbating global shortages of the metal used to make stainless steel and electric vehicle batteries.

Russia's official customs data shows that the country exported 10,300 tonnes of "unwrought" nickel in August-November, bringing the total for the first eleven months of 2021 to 45,100 tonnes. The data for December is yet to be published.

The numbers are incorrect and not complete, Nornickel said, adding that it did not suspend its nickel exports.

Nornickel, which produces and exports refined nickel, concentrates and also supplies nickel-containing semi-products to its plant in Finland, plans to report the amount of its 2021 metals sales on Feb. 10.

The miner, which exports 96% of its metals production to Europe, Asia and the Americas, sold 221,000 tonnes of nickel in 2020. The Russian customs data pegged exports at 135,500 tonnes for the same period.

Nornickel has said that its 2021 production and exports were affected by sudden flooding at two of its mines and an unrelated accident at its processing plant.

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Reporting by Anastasia Lyrchikova and Pratima Desai; writing by Polina Devitt; Editing by Tomasz Janowski

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