In early May, Nordic Mining began to demolish buildings on the shores of the Førdefjord to make way for the Engebø mine, an open-pit mine that will pollute the fjord with 250 million tonnes of mine waste. The fjord Nordic Mining plans to trash is a designated National Wild Salmon Fjord, independently verified to be among the cleanest in Norway and home to orca whales, white-tailed eagles and rich spawning grounds for fish.
Norwegian allies have been fighting this disastrous plan for years and they aren’t backing down now.
Activists first carried out civil disobedience to protest the company’s test drilling in 2016. For two weeks, impacted-community members and activists from across Norway locked themselves to Nordic Mining’s machinery and stopped construction of the Engebø mine. Dozens were arrested and thousands more are waiting to take their place. They are demanding the government withdraw the permits and calling out investors.
One of the key backers of the project is U.S. chemical manufacturer KRONOS Worldwide Inc. KRONOS has an agreement with Nordic Mining to buy rutile from the proposed Engebø mine, a key component in the production of titanium dioxide, used to make white paint whiter and brighter.
Together with our allies in Norway, we reached out to company leadership to educate them on the risks of the project and to demand it cancel the agreement with Nordic Mining. So far, KRONOS has remained silent.
Local residents, like Eiliv Erdal of the Association of Norwegian Salmon River Owners, believe submarine tailings disposal from the mine will destroy salmon migration routes, creating a wasteland, or a food desert, in the middle of the fjord. If it’s a decision between protecting sustainable, local industry or making white paint whiter, Eiliv is “willing to accept a bit of gray.”
Last summer, activists at Young Friends of the Earth carried out a similar protest against Nussir ASA’s plans to use the Repparfjord as a dumping ground for mine waste. Key backer in the project and Europe’s largest copper producer, Aurubis, canceled a supply contract MOU with the company, citing Corporate Social Responsibility due diligence. Aurubis, and a growing list of other mining companies and financial institutions, are unwilling to assume the reputational and environmental risk that ocean dumping poses.
Mining companies Eramet and Terrafame have committed not to use submarine tailings disposal at their operations, and Citigroup, Credit Suisse and Standard Chartered have all adopted policies to prohibit or severely restrict the practice. Major Norwegian asset manager, Storebrand, divested from MCC, owner of the Ramu nickel mine, over environmental damage from ocean dumping.