Today another investor decided to ditch ocean dumping. Storebrand Asset Management, Norway’s largest private asset manager, announced today that it will no longer invest in companies with mining operations that use marine or riverine tailings disposal or companies involved in deep sea mining. That means the two companies behind the controversial Wafi-Golpu mine in Papua New Guinea, Newcrest Mining and Harmony Gold, are out.
The divestment comes at a critical moment as the companies are seeking final approval for the mine this December. If approved, the copper-gold mine would dump hundreds of millions of tonnes of mine waste containing arsenic, lead, mercury, manganese and other heavy metals into the ocean.
Communities across the Huon Gulf and along the project pipeline oppose the marine tailings disposal and argue that the companies failed to obtain their free, prior and informed consent for the project, which threatens their sustenance, health, livelihoods, and way of life for future generations. At the Newcrest shareholder meeting last month, a community representative called for the companies to abandon plans to use marine tailings disposal. Residents have organized for years to demand the PNG government not approve the project. Newcrest also operates the Lihir gold mine in the New Ireland Province of Papua New Guinea, which dumps an estimated 14 million tonnes of mine waste into the ocean each year.
Storebrand first took action to protect Papua New Guinean waters from marine tailings disposal in 2020 when it divested from Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC). MCC operates the Ramu nickel-cobalt mine and battery nickel plant in Papua New Guinea, which dumps millions of tonnes of toxic mine waste into the ocean each year, with devastating consequences for residents’ health and the environment.
Storebrand’s new policy is part of a growing movement away from ocean dumping, the worst of the worst when it comes to mine tailings management. Citigroup, Credit Suisse and Standard Chartered have also adopted policies to prohibit or severely restrict the practice. Downstream users in the electric vehicle and tech sectors are also increasingly concerned that risks from these dirty mining practices will undermine the shift to clean energy.
A 2021 commitment from the Indonesian government means that Papua New Guinea and Norway are the only two countries in the world still advancing new projects that would dump mine waste into the ocean. Storebrand’s prohibition of marine tailings disposal mirrors popular opinion in Norway where 80% of the population opposes the practice. For the past two years, activists and local residents set up blockades to halt construction of two mines that would dump mine waste into National Salmon Fjords, prompting key financial supporters, Aurubis and Nordea, to back out.
This is an important moment in the fight to ditch ocean dumping once and for all. Stay updated on PNG communities’ fight to protect the Huon Gulf from mine waste by following the No Wafi-Golpu DSTP campaign page. And you can help our allies in Norway stop Nordic Mining’s plans to dump millions of tonnes of waste into a pristine fjord by sending an email to U.S. company, KRONOS, to demand it cut ties with the company.