Norwegian Government Sets Up Showdown with Activists Over Controversial Copper Mine

On November 29th, the Norwegian government denied an attempt to block the construction of a new copper mine that will dump 30 million tonnes of mine waste into the Repparfjord, a designated National Salmon Fjord and traditional Sea Sámi fishing fjord. It’s a disappointing decision, but we remain firm in our resolve to stand with our Norwegian Ditch Ocean Dumping partners as they prepare to take the next step in their fight to protect the Repparfjord.

The indigenous Sámi people have steadfastly opposed the project, citing the mine’s likely impacts on their traditional subsistence lifestyle. President of the Norwegian Sami Parliament, Aili Keskitalo, said: “The reindeer herding can’t bear this. Neither can the ecosystem in the fjord.”

A Dirty, Harmful Practice

Each year, mining companies dump over 220 million tonnes of hazardous mine waste directly into oceans, rivers and lakes. The result: polluted water, illness and disease, and ruined lives. It’s dirty. It’s unnecessary. And it’s wrong. Although the practice has been phased out in many parts of the world, mining companies still use it, governments still allow it, and the world’s largest banks and investment firms still profit from it. We are calling on financial institutions withdraw from any mine that would use this harmful practice. Since our campaign began, Standard Chartered and Citigroup have committed to Ditch the Dumpers. 

International Outcry

The controversial Nussir mine has provoked opposition outside of Norway as well. In March, more than a dozen organizations from nine countries sent letters to Norwegian Embassies in the US, UK, Mexico, Chile, Canada and Australia urging the government to reconsider its decision and deny Nussir ASA permission to mine. Last month our partners in Europe delivered a 100,000+ signature petition to Credit Suisse demanding that they stop financing Nussir and other harmful projects.

Project proponents are quick to point out that electric vehicles and renewable energy systems require significant amounts of copper. But no mine should proceed without the consent of local communities.

“This project is a serious environmental crime and that’s why 4,500 people have expressed their willingness to participate in civil disobedience to protect the fjord,” said Gaute Eiterjord, head of Nature and Youth, a Norwegian conversation organization.

In addition to mounting pressure on Credit Suisse, local groups will also step up action against other key financial backers of the mine, many of which are Norwegian. Our Norwegian allies aren’t giving up, and we aren’t either. Stay tuned for upcoming calls to action. 

 

Banner photo credit: Marion Palmer