Staff note: An activist with Young Friends of the Earth Norway, Tina Andersen Vågenes is one of the peaceful protesters who were arrested in February for opposing (and temporarily blocking) a proposed mine that would dump mine waste into her country’s majestic fjords if allowed to develop.
Tina and her colleagues scored a big victory recently, which she describes below. She received the support of thousands of Earthworks members who urged Nordic Mining CEO to drop plans to sue the protesters.
Thank you to those who wrote the CEO! We hope you will continue to help her and the other activists protect these important water bodies from irresponsible mining, by demanding the Norwegian government withhold permits for this mine and ban the practice of dumping mine waste into fjords!
In February, more than 100 people participated in civil disobedience actions to stop test drilling on the Engebø Mountain, near Førdefjord in Western Norway. Over 80 people were arrested and fined a total 100 000 pounds. The three-week action lasted three weeks was in protest of Nordic Mining’s controversial mining project, which would allow 250 million tons of mining tailings to be disposed of in the fjord.
As the actions ended, Nordic Mining’s CEO Ivar Fossum announced a multi-million lawsuit the activists, who ranged from 16 and 70 years old, with most being students and volunteers. Last week, Nordic Mining announced that they will not pursue a lawsuit, claiming it will be “lengthy and costly”.
Ever since Nordic Mining got permission from the Norwegian government in April 2015 to start a rutile ore mine from the Engebø Mountain and dispose 250 million tons of mining tailings in the Førdefjord, there have been massive protests. Marine biologists fear the tailings will harm life in the fjord, especially coastal cod, wild salmon and blue ling. On a yearly basis, the permit allows for the dumping of 1,200 tons of sulphuric acid, 1,000 tons of sodium, 1,000 tons of phosphoric acid, 360 tons of carbonic acid and 90 tons of acrylamide. The tailings would also raise the seabed by 150 meters, and would cover parts of spawning areas for several endangered fish species. Locals have protested the plans of open pit mining from the Mountain and a large disposal site in the fjord. Several families in the local community of Vevring plan to move away from the fjord if the mine is built.
During the three weeks of actions in February, activists stopped drilling work for up to 12 hours a day, before a 24-hour blockade on the last day. The support was enormous –Over 30,000 pounds was raised to support the activists. Locals came up to the mountain every day with messages of support to the activists, and even hosted them in their homes.
After the actions ended, Nordic Mining CEO Ivar Fossum stated he wanted to sue every one of the activists. In response, a petition was started at change.org, urging Nordic Mining to drop the lawsuit. Almost 6,000 have signed the petition. The organization Earthworks gathered over 7,000 people to send an email to Nordic Mining’s Ivar Fossum, telling him to drop the lawsuit. The powerful messages of support from Friends of the Earth groups in Brussels, the Netherlands and Croatia also sent a strong message to Nordic Mining.
Now that Nordic Mining has decided not to pursue legal action against the activists, it is a victory for the campaign.
Young Friends of the Earth Norway would like to thank everyone who participated, either by signing a petition, sending an email to Nordic Mining or by spreading the message. We are now convinced the struggle to protect Førdefjord stands stronger than before.
Check out savethefjords.com for more information about the actions and campaign, and how to join the struggle to protest Nordic Mining’s devastating plans for Førdefjord.