Nordic Mining’s threat to the Førdefjord

Wild Jølstra Salmon needs to pass the Førde Fjord. Nordic Mining has begun test drilling for a new open-pit rutile and garnet mine near the community of Vevring located in a region on Norway’s west coast famous for its fjords. If constructed, the mine would remove the top of the Engebø Mountain and dump 250 million tonnes of mine waste directly into the fish-rich Førdefjord. Nordic does not yet have the final permits necessary to operate, and it’s February 2020 feasibility study ignores major obstacles still standing in the way of the project.

Silje Ask Lundberg, Leader, Nature Conservation Association
Therese Hugstmyr Woie, Leader, Nature and Youth
Anne-Line Thingnes Førsund, Board member of The Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature Sogn & Fjordane
Ada Amilia Skjensvold, Leader, Vestland Nature and Youth

The mining company Nordic Mining has been granted a permit to operate an open-pit mine in Engebøfjellet and dump residual masses, with toxic chemicals, in the Førdefjord. The Norwegian Society for Nature Conservation, Nature and Youth, and 11 other environmental and business organizations have complained about the decision.

There is both fishing and fish farming in the 36-kilometer-long fjord in Sunnfjord. In 2007, Førdefjorden was the national salmon fjord for the sake of the salmon stock in the salmon rivers Nausta and Jølstra.

Førdefjorden is a fresh and species-rich fjord with great natural values has four salmon-carrying watercourses and has special protection as a national salmon fjord. Førdefjorden has rich bottom fauna and in the fjord live several red lists and protected species. For a number of years, the state’s own marine expert advisers at both the Institute of Marine Research and the Directorate of Fisheries have warned against the negative consequences for the fjord of a sea landfill. The main organization Virke, NHO Reiseliv, a combined seafood and fishing industry, Norwegian salmon rivers, and 60 local seafood and tourism companies in the Sunnfjord region have stated that they do not want a sea landfill in the Førdefjord. They fear the consequences for their industries of a polluted fjord.

Mining with discharges into the sea is an outdated and past industrial method, a sad legacy from early industrial times, which only five countries in the world have not stopped with, one of them is Norway. Former owners benefit from several countries in Europe’s landfill, but this has ended, except in Norway, which today is left alone to pollute the sea, our common food container, with discharges of mining waste. Nevertheless, the mining company received an operating license in June this year, from the Directorate for Mineral Management.

Nature and Youth and The Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature, as well as several other organizations, have complained about the decision. The Directorate has based its permit from 2015 emissions. Since then, the project has changed significantly. Both the number of jobs and the length of the operating period have been dramatically reduced, and the company is now basing itself on using a very toxic chemical for which it does not have a discharge permit.

The company stated that it could now significantly reduce the discharge of residual masses to the fjord. In that case, there is a basis for making demands on the handling of all the residual mass on land, making use of it, and filling something back into closed mine tunnels. We believe that the Directorate for Mineral Management has made an inadequate assessment, both environmentally and rock-related, but especially in light of the potential for large and irreversible environmental damage as this case has, with rock cutting and discharges of polluted mass in the Førdefjord.

The consequences for society and other industries can be substantial, as a result of pollution directly, but not least from a loss of reputation for the area and for Norway. Shortly after Nordic Mining received an operating license from the Directorate for Mineral Management in June, the company applied for a release of the chemical SIBX, for which they do not have a release license and which is very toxic to marine organisms. The company recently announced that they are coming up with yet another new plan for mineral extraction at Engebø, in March 2021.

We believe this substantiates that the operating license for Nordic Mining’s mining project at Engebø is failing. The Directorate for Mineral Management recently rejected our complaints. This means that the complaints go on to be handled in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, with the Liberal Party’s Iselin Nybø at the helm. As we see it, she now has a golden chance to both show that the Liberal Party is truly an environmental party that fights to preserve biodiversity and to secure the Førdefjord as a very important basis for coastal and nature-based industries, and for all future generations.

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