Norway’s Youth Activists Take Stand Against Ocean Dumping

This summer, youth activists joined local fisherfolk and Sámi Indigenous people on the banks of the Repparfjord in Northern Norway. Their goal was simple: to stop Nussir ASA from starting construction on a copper mine that would dump millions of tonnes of waste into the fjord. 

They achieved that goal and more. 

Day and night, activists took turns keeping watch at the proposed mine site. On three occasions they physically blocked crews from carrying out excavation work. Their presence got the attention of Aurubis AG, Europe’s largest copper producer, who announced it was terminating its offtake agreement with Nussir due to concerns about sustainability. 

Nussir and the Norwegian government have insisted that the copper mine at Repparfjord is essential for the country’s ‘green shift.’ They were willing to sacrifice the fjord and trample Sámi Indigenous rights to put the mine into production. But Aurubis, and a growing list of other mining companies and financial institutions, appear 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.

Activists at Repparfjord broke camp in September to coincide with Norway’s parliamentary elections on September 13, but not before sending a strong message to the incoming government: withdraw the permits for the Nussir mine. 

Earthworks’ online action over the summer added international voices to the demand to protect Repparfjord, and all Norwegian fjords, from toxic mine waste: nearly 4,000 people sent emails to Norwegian Prime Minister Solberg to demand the so-called leader in ocean sustainability take bold action to stop the Nussir and Nordic Mining projects, and ban all ocean dumping in Norway. 

Despite huge gains this summer the fight to protect Repparfjord isn’t over. Activists will continue to keep watch at Nussir’s mine site throughout the fall while they work to secure a permanent halt to operations. Stay tuned for more opportunities to support Norwegian allies to protect fjords from ocean dumping.