MOSCOW, February 4 - RAPSI, Sergei Feklyunin. The Krasnoyarsk Territorial Commercial Court will hear on February 8 the Russian environmental agency’s 585.5-million-ruble ($19.5 million) claim against Norilsk Nickel, the court spokesperson told RAPSI on Monday.

The lawsuit against the non-ferrous metals giant was filed in September 2012 for failure to pay its environmental taxes on time.

Earlier, hearings were adjourned on several occasions as the claims amount had to be adjusted to take into account the costs of the company's environmental projects in 2012, which had been approved by the regional government, the defendant said. Previously, the Krasnoyarsk Commercial Court halted proceedings in a similar lawsuit filed by the Federal Service for the Supervision of Natural Resources against the company for roughly 962 million rubles ($32 million) in back taxes for 2011.

The plaintiff withdrew the claim after the defendant repaid the debt in full.

Norilsk Nickel told Prime News Agency at the time that the agency’s regional section had failed to take into account the costs accrued by the company in connection with projects aimed at protecting the environment in 2011, as they were approved by the regional government.

Norilsk Nickel said it routinely implements such projects on a large scale. Based on federal and regional law, the costs incurred in connection with these projects have been deducted from Norilsk Nickel’s environmental taxes since 2004. Neither the size nor the aim of these expenses has ever been contested, the company said.

MMC Norilsk Nickel is a diversified ore mining and smelting company, and it is the world’s leading nickel and palladium producer. The company operates industrial facilities in Norilsk industrial region and on the Kola Peninsula in Russia as well as in Finland, the US, Australia, Botswana, and South Africa.