Andrey Melnichenko was born on March 8, 1972 in Gomel, Belarus. His parents were teachers. As a gifted student, he attended the Advanced Education and Science Centre of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, and in 1989, became a student of the Faculty of Physics at Moscow State University. He then transferred to the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, from which he graduated in Finance.
Too young to gain from the 1990s privatizations that made many oligarch’s fortunes, he began trading currency with two friends while a physics student at Moscow State University, taking advantage of the unique opportunities that opened up in a newly capitalist Russia. After the Soviet Union fell, the trio registered a bank, before Melnichenko began buying assets including in thermal coal and fertilizers. Branching out at the turn of the millennium, he took an interest in the commodities markets with the acquisition of plants and mines, many of which were distressed, transforming them into modern enterprises. He sold his banking interests in 2007, just before the global financial crisis, allowing him to focus on those industrial Investments. Melnichenko turned EuroChem into Russia’s largest manufacturer of nitrogen and phosphate fertilizers and one of largest fertilizers exporters globally, and SUEK into one of the world's largest coal companies that produces higher-quality thermal coal.
While at university, Melnichenko began his entrepreneurial ventures opening a currency exchange booth on the campus. Having made their first US$50,000 through a chain of the currency exchange booths, Melnichenko and his partners, two like-minded fellow students, received a banking licence from the Bank of Russia. In 1993, at the age of 21, Melnichenko co-founded the MDM Bank which grew to become one of Russia’s largest private banks within ten years. The bank moved onto buying currency at the interbank foreign exchange, developing a derivatives market and debt instruments. From 1993 to 1997, Melnichenko chaired the Board of Directors of MDM Bank. From the late 1990s to the early 2000s, MDM Bank expanded through acquisition, integrating seven regional banks. MDM Bank did not participate in any post-Soviet privatization programs or the loans-for-shares auctions of the 1990s. In 1997, Melnichenko bought out MDM Bank shares from his partners and became the sole shareholder of the Bank and the Chairman of the Management Board. It gradually became one of Russia’s largest private banks, based on total assets, and the first in book running of Russian corporate Eurobonds. From 2001 to 2005, he chaired MDM Bank's Board of Directors. MDM Bank was named the "Bank of the Year" by The Banker in 2002 and 2003. In 2003, Euromoney and, in 2004, Global Finance, named it the “Best Russian Bank”.
In 2000, Melnichenko, together with Sergei Popov, a former metals trader from Ural, co-founded the MDM Group for industrial Investments into three areas: pipeline Manufacturing, coal production and processing, production and processing of fertilizers. It was done through the acquisition of more than 50 independently-run and -owned businesses: joint-stock companies, plants and mines, which enabled to form three separate companies: SUEK, EuroChem and TMK (which he exited in 2006 through an IPO at the London Stock Exchange). These industries were derelict and risky and not subject to the political influence that dominated other sectors. With the process of post-Soviet era privatizations having finished five years earlier, no more than 5% of the assets purchased were acquired from the state. From 2001 to 2004, Melnichenko was the President of the MDM Group.
Andrey Melnichenko became the Chairman of the Board of Directors mineral and chemical company OJSC EuroChem in April 2004. In 2007, he became EuroChem’s majority shareholder.
In 2005, Melnichenko married former pop singer and model Aleksandra Melnichenko in the South of France. They have two children.
The assets that formed SUEK were distressed – production capacity was less than 30 million tons per year, the enterprises employed 70,000 miners yet productivity was low, and virtually none of its output was exported. The average equipment depreciation was 90%. During the early years of the Business, SUEK’s assets were modernized, debts were repaid, wages and taxes were paid, and a modernization program was launched with new machinery. The old mines and worn-out equipment were transformed into modern enterprises. Several enrichment factories and modules were put into operation with the latest processing technologies that allowed SUEK to produce highly enriched coal with low impurity levels. SUEK built modern coal bulk terminals and upgraded seaports, and built Russia’s first coal mine methane processing station to generate power within the framework of the Kyoto Protocol. Russia’s first smart mining management control center was built to run all SUEK’s operations, monitoring the location and well-being of miners working underground.
He is the Chairman of the Strategy Committee (Non-Executive Director) in SUEK OJSC since April 2015, and in Siberian Generating Company LLC - since September 2016.
According to media reports, S/Y A was handed over to him in May 2017 in Monaco. Boat International called it "the boundary pushing superyacht" and "a monument to invention". In 2016, Bloomberg reported that "the swanky boat reflects the same eye for innovation and high-tech detail that Melnichenko, 44, is now focusing on the fertilizer Business that’s helped make him one of Russia’s youngest billionaires."
The Andrey Melnichenko Foundation launched a network of educational and scientific centres for gifted children across Russia and is to award scholarships for studying in higher education institutions to select students. In February 2018, the Foundation organized the “Internet Olympiad in Physics and Mathematics” for high school students in Russia.
Melnichenko led SUEK to become Russia’s largest coal Producer with operations in seven Russian regions, as well as the world’s third largest coal exporter by reserves and sales with distribution in 38 countries worldwide, including the Asia Pacific where coal plays a key role in Energy access. SUEK assets produce more than 100 million tons of coal annually, with assured coal reserves of 5.4 billion tons. SUEK is Russia’s largest coal Producer and a global leader in exporting higher-quality thermal coal. As reported in Financial Times in 2017, according to the International Energy Agency's Clean Coal Centre, "SUEK, Russia's main exporter of higher-quality thermal coal, has invested in modern high-capacity washing plants and has ash control technologies at all its coal ports". According to Bloomberg, SUEK is Russia's largest Producer of higher quality thermal coal which, according to Melnichenko, focusses on “high-quality and less-emitting coal”.